Food Chem Toxicol. 2021 Oct 7 ;157:112604. Epub 2021 Oct 7. PMID: 34627931
Thymoquinone induces oxidative stress-mediated apoptosis through downregulation of Jak2/STAT3 signaling pathway in human melanoma cells.
Melanoma is a highly aggressive and treatment-resistant cancer, and the incidence and mortality rates are increasing worldwide. Thymoquinone (TQ) is the active component of Nigella sativa seed extracts and exerts anticancer effects in various cancer cells. However, the anticancer effects of TQ on melanoma and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, TQ treatment induced apoptosis in SK-MEL-28 cells. Interestingly, constitutive phosphorylation of Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) was markedly decreased following TQ treatment. Furthermore, TQ treatment downregulated STAT3-dependent genes including cyclin D1, D2, and D3 and survivin. Moreover, inhibition of Jak2/STAT3 using AG490, an inhibitor of Jak2 or genetic ablation of STAT3, abrogated the expression of target genes. TQ increased the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), whereas pretreatment with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a ROS scavenger, prevented the suppressive effect of TQ on Jak2/STAT3 activation and protected SK-MEL-28 cells from TQ-induced apoptosis. TQ administration further attenuated the growth of SK-MEL-28 tumor xenografts. Taken together, TQ induced apoptosis of SK-MEL-28 by hindering the Jak2/STAT3 signaling pathway through ROS generation. Our results support further development of TQ as a potential anticancer therapeutic agent for treating melanoma.