Background: In the last decade, there have been accumulating data that the use of medicinal
plants could bring additional benefits to the supportive treatment of various diseases. Nigella sativa
(N. sativa, family Ranunculaceae) is one of these plants that has attracted considerable interest. The extracts
and seeds of N. sativa and its active component thymoquinone have been studied extensively and
the results suggest that N. sativa might carry some therapeutic potential for many diseases, including
Methods: The selection criteria for references were applied through Pubmed with “N. sativa and cancer”,
“N. sativa and breast cancer”, “N. sativa and metastasis”, “N. sativa and cytotoxicity of natural
killer cells”. The pathway analysis was performed using the PANTHER tool by using five randomly
selected N. sativa affected genes (Cyclin D1, P53, p21 protein (Cdc42/Rac) activated kinase 1 (PAK1),
B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) in order to elucidate further
potentially affected signaling pathways.
Results: The aim of this review was to summarize studies regarding the effects of N. sativa in cancer
generally, with a focus on breast cancer, its anti-metastatic effects, and how N. sativa modulates the
cytotoxicity of Natural Killer cells that play a crucial role in tumor surveillance.
Conclusion: In summary, the data suggest that N. sativa might be used for its anti-cancer and antimetastatic
properties and as an immune system activator against cancer.