Thymoquinone alleviates liver fibrosis via miR-30a-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
J Cell Physiol. 2020 Oct 8. Epub 2020 Oct 8. PMID: 33090549
Thymoquinone (TQ), the main active constituent of Nigella sativa seeds, has been shown to play a role in antioxidation, anti-inflammation, and antitumor. Recent studies have demonstrated that TQ contributes to the suppression of liver fibrosis. Abnormal activated epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) promotes the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). However, whether the antifibrotic effects of TQ occur through inhibiting EMT is largely unknown. In this study, it was found that TQ ameliorated liver fibrosis and collagen accumulation in carbon tetrachloride (CCl) mice. In vitro, TQ inhibited HSC activation including reduced proliferation,α-smooth muscle actin, and collagen. In addition, TQ markedly suppressed the EMT process, with enhanced E-cadherin and reduced desmin. Notably, snail family transcriptional repressor 1 (Snai1), the EMT master transcription factor, was obviously inhibited by TQ in vivo and in vitro. Further studiesdemonstrated that Snai1 was a target of microRNA-30a (miR-30a), which was upregulated by TQ. Interestingly, the effects of TQ on HSC activation and EMT were almost inhibited by miR-30a inhibitor. Collectively, we demonstrate that TQ inhibits HSC activation, at least in part, via regulation of miR-30a and Snai1. TQ upregulates miR-30a expression, resulting in a reduced Snai1 level as well as EMT process inactivation, which contributes to the inhibition of HSC activation. TQ may be a potential therapeutic agent for liver fibrosis.