Thymoquinone-Mediated Modulation of Toll-like Receptors and Pluripotency Factors in Gingival Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells
Thymoquinone (TQ), the key active component of Nigella sativa (NS), demonstrates very promising biomedical anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticancer properties. Several investigations have inspected the modulative activities of TQ on different stem/progenitor cell types, but its possible role in the regulation of gingival mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells (G-MSCs) has not yet been characterized. For the first time, this study investigates the effects of TQ on G-MSCs’ stemness and Toll-like receptor expression profiles. G-MSCs (n = 5) were isolated, sorted via anti-STRO-1 antibodies and then disseminated on cell culture dishes to create colony-forming units (CFUs), and their stem/progenitor cell attributes were characterized. TQ stimulation of the G-MSCs was performed, followed by an examination of the expression of pluripotency-related factors using RT-PCR and the expression profiles of TLRs 1−10 using flowcytometry, and they were compared to a non-stimulated control group. The G-MSCs presented all the predefined stem/progenitor cells’ features. The TQ-activated G-MSCs displayed significantly higher expressions of TLR3 and NANOG with a significantly reduced expression of TLR1 (p < 0.05, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). TQ-mediated stimulation preserves G-MSCs’ pluripotency and facilitates a cellular shift into an immunocompetent-differentiating phenotype through increased TLR3 expression. This characteristic modulation might impact the potential therapeutic applications of G-MSCs.