Biased activity of soluble guanylyl cyclase: the Janus face of thymoquinone

Detremmerie C, Vanhoutte PM, Leung S
Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica. B, 2017


The natural compound thymoquinone, extracted from Nigella sativa (black cumin), is widely used in humans for its anti-oxidative properties. Thymoquinone is known for its acute endothelium-independent vasodilator effects in isolated rat aortae and pulmonary arteries, depending in part on activation of adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium channels and inhibition of voltage-dependent calcium channels. The compound also improves endothelial dysfunction in mesenteric arteries of ageing rodents and in aortae of rabbits treated with pyrogallol, by inhibiting oxidative stress. Serendipitously, thymoquinone was found to augment contractions in isolated arteries with endothelium of both rats and pigs. The endothelium-dependent augmentation it causes counterintuitively depends on biased activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) producing inosine 3ʹ,5ʹ-cyclic monophosphate (cyclic IMP) rather than guanosine 3ʹ,5ʹ-cyclic monophosphate. This phenomenon shows a striking mechanistic similarity to the hypoxic augmentation previously observed in porcine coronary arteries. The cyclic IMP preferentially produced under thymoquinone exposure causes an increased contractility of arterial smooth muscle by interfering with calcium homeostasis. This brief review summarizes the vascular pharmacology of thymoquinone, focussing in particular on how the compound causes endothelium-dependent contractions by biasing the activity of sGC.


Detremmerie C, Vanhoutte PM, Leung S. Biased activity of soluble guanylyl cyclase: the Janus face of thymoquinone. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2017 Jul;7(4):401-408. doi: 10.1016/j.apsb.2017.06.003. Epub 2017 Jul 3.

[maxbutton id=”2301″]