Anisakiasis is a fish-borne parasitic disease caused by the consumption of raw or undercooked fish, as well as cephalopods, contaminated by third instar larvae (L3) of species belonging to the genus Anisakis (Anisakidae). Origanum compactum is a small herbaceous aromatic plant endemic to Spain and Morocco. In Morocco, the plant is used under infusion to treat heart diseases and intestinal pains or as preservative for foodstuffs. This is the first time that the O. compactum essential oil is tested against the parasitic nematode Anisakis simplex. The phytochemical analysis by GC-MS revealed carvacrol (50.3%) and thymol (14.8%) as the major oil constituents. The essential oil and its major constituents carvacrol and thymol were tested against A. simplex L3 larvae isolated from blue whiting fish (Micromesistius poutassou). A. simplex mortality (%) after 24 and 48 h of treatment at 1 μl/ml was 100%, with a low LD50 compared with other essential oils and extracts, and the penetration in the agar assay was also reduced, if compared with control wells. The oil, as well as its major constituents, demonstrated a dose-dependent larvicidal activity. Inhibition of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase through a colorimetric assay in 96-well plates was used to elucidate the pharmacological mechanism as this enzyme plays a key role in nematodes neuromuscular function. Interestingly, O. compactum essential oil, carvacrol and thymol inhibited the enzyme, confirming that this could be one of the mechanisms involved in the anthelmintic activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that O. compactum essential oil is reported as a larvicidal agent against A. simplex L3 larvae.
Keywords: Anisakis; Anthelmintic; Carvacrol; Nematode; Thymol; Waterborne parasitology.