Anti-protozoal activity of extracts from chicory (Cichorium intybus) against Cryptosporidium parvum in cell culture.Sci Rep. 2019 12 31; 9(1):20414.SR
Cryptosporidium spp. are responsible for severe public health problems and livestock production losses. Treatment options are limited to only one drug available for human and bovine cryptosporidiosis, respectively, and both drugs exhibit only partial efficacy. Sesquiterpene lactones (SL) are plant bioactive compounds that function as a defence mechanism against herbivores. SL have demonstrated anti-parasitic properties against a range of parasitic taxa but knowledge about their anti-Cryptosporidium efficacy is limited. The effect of SL-rich leaf and root extracts from chicory (Cichorium intybus cv. Spadona) was investigated using human colon adenocarcinoma (HCT-8) cells infected with Cryptosporidium parvum. C. parvum oocysts were inoculated onto the cell monolayer and i) incubated for 4 hours with extracts (leaf and root extracts 300, 150, 75, 37.5, 18.75 and 9.375 μg/mL) in triplicates followed by incubation in bioactive free media (sporozoite invasion assays) or ii) incubated for 4 hours in bioactive free media followed by 48-hours incubation with extracts (growth inhibition assays). Extract toxicity on HCT-8 cells was assessed via water-soluble tetrazolium (WST)-1 assay prior to quantifying parasitic growth via immunofluorescence. Both extracts demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition in the growth inhibition assays (p = < 0.0001 for both extracts) but not in the invasion assays. Anti-parasitic activity did not appear to be solely related to SL content, with the extract with lower SL content (leaf) exhibiting higher inhibition at 300 μg/ml. However, given the limited treatment options available for Cryptosporidium spp., our study encourages further investigation into the use of chicory extracts to identify novel active compound(s) inhibiting these protozoa.