Anti-echinococcal activity of menthol and a novel prodrug, menthol-pentanol, against Echinococcus multilocularis

Acta Trop. 2020 May;205:105411. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2020.105411. Epub 2020 Feb 23.


Alveolar echinococcosis is one of the most dangerous parasitic zoonoses. This disease, widely distributed in the northern hemisphere, is caused by the metacestode stage of the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. All surgical and non-surgical patients should perform chemotherapy with benzimidazoles, mainly with albendazole. However, the efficacy of albendazole is variable due to its deficient pharmacokinetic properties. Therefore, the need to find new therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of alveolar echinococcosis is evident. Menthol is a natural compound of low toxicity, used in industries such as cosmetics and gastronomy and generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, menthol has important pharmacological effects and is effective against a wide variety of organisms. The development of prodrugs allows improving the pharmacokinetic properties of the parental drug. To improve lipophilicity and therefore the bioavailability of menthol, a novel prodrug called menthol-pentanol was developed by masking the functional polar group of menthol by linking n-pentanol by a carbonate bond. The aim of the current work was to evaluate the in vitro and in vivo efficacy of menthol and menthol-pentanol against E. multilocularis. Menthol-pentanol had a greater protoscolicidal effect than menthol. In addition, the prodrug demonstrated a similar clinical efficacy to albendazole. The increase in lipophilicity of the prodrug with respect to menthol was reflected in an increase in its antiparasitic activity against E. multilocularis. Thus, menthol-pentanol appears as a promising candidate for further evaluation as a potential alternative for the treatment of alveolar echinococcosis.

Keywords: Albendazole; Alveolar echinococcosis; Chemotherapy; Echinococcus multilocularis; Menthol; Menthol-pentanol.

MeSH terms

  • Albendazole / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics / chemistry
  • Anthelmintics / pharmacology*
  • Benzimidazoles / pharmacology
  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium / chemistry
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Echinococcosis
  • Echinococcus multilocularis / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menthol / administration & dosage
  • Menthol / chemistry
  • Menthol / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Structure
  • Pentanols / administration & dosage
  • Pentanols / chemistry
  • Pentanols / pharmacology*
  • Prodrugs*


  • Anthelmintics
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Pentanols
  • Prodrugs
  • Menthol
  • Albendazole
  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium

Supplementary concepts

  • Alveolar echinococcosis