Towards identifying novel anti-Eimeria agents: trace elements, vitamins, and plant-based natural products

Parasitol Res. 2014 Oct;113(10):3547-56. doi: 10.1007/s00436-014-4101-8. Epub 2014 Sep 4.


Eimeriosis, a widespread infectious disease of livestock, is caused by coccidian protozoans of the genus Eimeria. These obligate intracellular parasites strike the digestive tract of their hosts and give rise to enormous economic losses, particularly in poultry, ruminants including cattle, and rabbit farming. Vaccination, though a rational prophylactic measure, has not yet been as successful as initially thought. Numerous broad-spectrum anti-coccidial drugs are currently in use for treatment and prophylactic control of eimeriosis. However, increasing concerns about parasite resistance, consumer health, and environmental safety of the commercial drugs warrant efforts to search for novel agents with anti-Eimeria activity. This review summarizes current approaches to prevent and treat eimeriosis such as vaccination and commercial drugs, as well as recent attempts to use dietary antioxidants as novel anti-Eimeria agents. In particular, the trace elements selenium and zinc, the vitamins A and E, and natural products extracted from garlic, barberry, pomegranate, sweet wormwood, and other plants are discussed. Several of these novel anti-Eimeria agents exhibit a protective role against oxidative stress that occurs not only in the intestine of Eimeria-infected animals, but also in their non-parasitized tissues, in particular, in the first-pass organ liver. Currently, it appears to be promising to identify safe combinations of low-cost natural products with high anti-Eimeria efficacy for a potential use as feed supplementation in animal farming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Cattle
  • Coccidiosis / drug therapy
  • Coccidiosis / parasitology
  • Coccidiosis / prevention & control
  • Coccidiosis / veterinary*
  • Eimeria / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Poultry
  • Poultry Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Poultry Diseases / parasitology
  • Poultry Diseases / prevention & control
  • Rabbits
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology*
  • Vaccination / veterinary
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Biological Products
  • Plant Extracts
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins