The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Biological Sciences - Cell and Molecular: M.S.




College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Oladele Gazal

Second Advisor

Heiko Schoenfuss

Third Advisor

Kannan Sivaprakasam

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Nigella Sativa Reproduction


Nigella sativa (NS) is a small herbaceous plant belonging to the Ranunculaceae family and is cultivated across several regions in Asia, Southern Europe, and the Middle East. Several studies have investigated the effects of alcoholic NS extracts on reproduction, but few have investigated the effects of the dietary supplementation of NS seeds at up to 15% inclusion on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. Further, few studies have investigated the effect of acute or chronic aqueous NS extracts administration on hematology, hormone secretion, and the histology of major organs regulating metabolism and reproduction in the male rat. Thus, our studies were intended to bridge those gaps in knowledge.

In our first study designed to investigate the effects of the dietary supplementation of NS seeds on pregnancy and pregnancy outcome, thirty-two mature female Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 250-350 g and between seven and ten weeks of age were utilized. Rats were assigned to one of four groups: Control group (0% Nigella sativa seed inclusion; n=8), Low group (5% Nigella sativa seed inclusion; n=8), Medium group (10% Nigella sativa seed inclusion; n=8), and High group (15% Nigella sativa seed inclusion; n=8). Rats were mated and allowed to carry pups in-utero to term. Our results indicated no observable injury in conceived pups in all experimental groups. Lowest incidence of pregnancy was seen in the 10% supplementation group. Mean pup weights in all NS- supplemented groups remained significant higher up to 7 days post-partum when compared to the control group. Dietary supplementation of NS seeds up to 15% had no deleterious effect on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.

In the second study, we utilized thirty mature male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 250-350 g, and between seven and ten weeks of age. Each rat was weighed and randomly assigned to receive either Saline, i.p. (Control group, n = 10) or 25mg/Kg BW NS aqueous extract, i.p. (Low dose group, n = 10), or 50mg/Kg BW NS aqueous extract, i.p. (High dose group, n = 15) in a total volume of 200 µl for either 15 days (acute phase; n=15) or for 30 days (chronic phase; n=15). At the end of each phase, 5 rats from each experimental group were euthanized and hormonal analyses and hematological, liver and kidney enzymes and function tests were determined. Further, histological analyses of key organs of metabolism and reproduction were performed.

Administration of NS aqueous extract had no effect on liver enzyme levels and weights of the liver, kidney, testes, prostate gland and the epididymis. However, the chronic administration of NS extract increased blood urea nitrogen, reduced testicular and epididymal weights and caused testicular scarring and severe abdominal adhesion. NS aqueous extract administration, either in the acute or chronic phases, had no effect on luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone hormone levels. However, whereas phase significantly (P=0.03)increased mean LH levels, irrespective of treatment, it decreased mean plasma FSH levels (P=0.001) and this decrease was also not treatment-dependent.

Taken together, these results indicate that NS supplementation had no deleterious effect on pregnancy and parturition in the female rat and increased pup weight, possibly as a result of its galactogogue effect. Further, acute NS extract administration had no effect in the male rat but chronic administration although without an effect on liver and kidney histology but induced structural changes in the testes and the epididymides. The NS-induced adhesion observed in the present study could be due to thymoquinone, an active ingredient in NS.


My deepest gratitude goes to my heavenly father Y’HWH, his son Yeshua, and his spirit Elohim. Without the trinity, this thesis would never have been completed. In a special way, I sincerely thank my thesis supervisor, Dr Oladele Gazal for his tutelage, patience and fatherly instruction. I also extend my gratitude to other members of my thesis committee, Dr Heiko Schoenfuss, and Dr Kannan Sivaprakasam for all their input in the actualization of this thesis.

Words cannot express my gratitude for the immense emotional support I received from my parents, Benjamin & Sylvia Uzochukwu, my family and friends, Oluchukwu Uzochukwu, Mazi Onyebuchi Mmegwa, Osagie Ighadaro, Gozie Mmegwa, Debbie Solomon, Diuto Esiobu, Eugenia Anah, Felicia Durden-Mmegwa, Patricia Mmegwa-Seck, Mary Tsoya & Oliseka Jose Tina Ogbukiri, Wendy Klebs and my dear friends, Doris Marcella Jidenma Ejiawoko, Kayode Shonibare, Obi Otti, Martha & Ryan Muehlhauser, Luanda Rudo Majo, Eric Peltz, Ashley Steffensen, Yemisi Lenz, Mattew Julius Bridget Omafuvbe . You all gave me the emotional strength to keep on going. Thank you.

This would be incomplete, if I failed to thank my lab family, Jake Westphal, Erum Khan and Samera Da Silva for their friendship, constructive criticism and camaraderie during my time at the Endocrinology and Reproduction Lab. A special place of thanks, is reserved for the Vivarium manager, his staff and undergraduate assistants, James Villar-Mead, Brad Assen, Nasra Alkawaher, Thomas Cavel and Chryssa King who assisted me during my lab bench work in one way or the other.

May the Almighty bless you all.



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