Nigella sativa oil (NSO) is used in folk medicine as a therapy for many diseases including bronchial asthma. We investigated the possible modulating effects of NSO on asthma-like phenotypes in a mouse model of bronchial asthma. BALB/c mice were actively sensitized by intraperitoneal injections of 50 μg ovalbumin (OVA) with 1 mg alum on days 0 and 12. Starting on day 22, they were exposed to OVA (1% (w/v), in sterile physiological saline) for 30 min, three times every 4th day. Negative control animals were exposed to saline in a similar manner. NSO was administered orally for 31 day from day 0 to day 30. On the day of sensitization and challenge, NSO was given 30 min before the treatment. Airway function, number of inflammatory cells in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), levels of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-13 and interferon (IFN)-γ in BALF, serum levels of total IgE, OVA-specific IgE, IgG1 and IgG2a, and histopathological examination of lung tissues were investigated. Oral treatment with NSO showed significant decrease in airway hyperresponsiveness, the number of total leukocytes, macrophages and eosinophils, levels of IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13 in BALF, serum levels of total IgE, OVA-specific IgE and IgG1, and significant increase in BALF level of IFN-γ and serum level of OVA-specific IgG2a, indicating restoration of local Th1/Th2 balance. Furthermore, it significantly abrogated the histopathological changes of the lungs, as the images were nearly normal. These results suggest that the treatment with oral NSO could be a promising treatment for bronchial asthma in humans. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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