The current strategy for the control of helminth infections relies on chemotherapy. However, resistance appearance is promoting the necessity of developing new drugs against trematodes. Herein, potential trematocidal effects of garlic (Allium sativum) are investigated in the context of intestinal foodborne trematodes, employing the Echinostoma caproni-mouse model. Daily administration of dietary doses of garlic was conducted in three groups of mice: (i) before infection (prophylaxis), (ii) after infection (therapeutic) and (iii) both, before and after infection (continuous). A fourth group of mice, not exposed to garlic, was used as control. No differences in worm recovery, fecundity and local cytokine expression profiles were found with respect to control infections. However, considerable alterations in tegument structure, including swelling, furrowing, vacuolization and changes in secretory bodies were detected in garlic-exposed parasites using scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Protein secretion was markedly reduced in response to garlic, whereas up-regulation of several proteins, such as major vault protein and tER-ATPase, was observed in treated worms. The results presented herein provide new insights in the anthelminthic activity of bioactive garlic compounds and the manner that parasites respond to toxins.
Keywords: Allium sativum; Anthelmintic activity; Echinostoma caproni; Tegument; Trematoda.