Effects of artemisinin and Artemisia extracts on Haemonchus contortus in gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus)

Jill M Squires, Jorge F S Ferreira, David S Lindsay, Anne M Zajac
Veterinary Parasitology 2011 January 10, 175 (1): 103-8
Haemonchus contortus is a blood-sucking abomasal parasite of small ruminants that is responsible for major losses to producers worldwide. Resistance of this nematode to commercial anthelmintics has produced a demand for alternative control methods. Plants in the genus Artemisia have traditionally been used as anthelmintics and whole plants and plant extracts have demonstrated activity against gastrointestinal nematodes in several studies. In addition, Artemisia annua is the sole commercial source of artemisinin, the raw material used to produce drugs effective against the hemoprotozoan malaria parasites (Plasmodium species). Artemisinin derivatives have also shown efficacy against some trematodes, including Fasciola hepatica and Schistosoma species. In this study, artemisinin was tested for efficacy against H. contortus in a gerbil model of infection. Also tested in the gerbil model were an aqueous extract, an ethanolic extract and the essential oil of A. annua, and an ethanolic extract of Artemisia absinthium. In all experiments, gerbils were infected with 600 third-stage H. contortus larvae. In experiment 1, gerbils were treated orally with 400 milligrams per kilogram body weight (mg/kg BW) artemisinin once or 200mg/kg BW artemisinin daily for 5 days (Days 4-8 post-infection). In experiment 2, gerbils were treated daily for 5 days with 600 mg/kg BW of A. annua ethanolic or aqueous extract. In Experiment 3, gerbils were treated with 1000 mg/kg BW of A. annua or A. absinthium ethanolic extract or with 300 mg/kg BW of A. annua essential oil daily for five consecutive days (Days 4-8 post-infection). No significant effects of treatment were seen with artemisinin or any of the Artemisia species extracts at the dosages studied. The non-ionic surfactant Labrosol(®) was an effective nontoxic solvent for delivery of hydrophilic plant extracts and the lipophilic essential oil used in the study.

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