In vitro inhibition of Eimeria tenella invasion of epithelial cells by phytochemicals

S. A. Burt*, M. H. G. Tersteeg-Zijderveld, B. G. M. Jongerius-Gortemaker, L. Vervelde, J. C. M. Vernooij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resistance to coccidiostats and possible future restrictions on their use raise the need for alternative methods of reducing coccidiosis in poultry. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of selected phytochemicals on Eimeria tenella sporozoite invasion in vitro. Four phytochemicals were selected on the basis that they reduce the virulence of Eimeria spp. and/or provide immune modulatory benefits to host cells: betaine, carvacrol, curcumin and Echinacea purpurea extract (EP).

Madin-Darby bovine kidney (MDBK) cells were covered by medium containing phytochemicals at the highest concentration which was non-toxic to the cells. Salinomycin 50 mu g/ml was positive control; negative control was medium only. E. tenella (Houghton strain) sporozoites were added to wells and after incubation for 2, 4 or 20 h at 37 degrees C, cells were fixed and stained with hematoxylin-eosin. Ten evenly spaced fields per well were photographed and the percentage of cells invaded by sporozoites was calculated and normalized to the control.

At 2 h, carvacrol, curcumin and EP showed a significantly lower percentage of sporozoite invasion than the untreated control; in contrast, betaine treatment represented a significantly higher invasion percentage. Combining carvacrol with EP inhibited E. tenella invasion more effectively than applying the compounds individually, but the further addition of curcumin did not reduce invasion further.

In conclusion, this study shows that invasion of MDBK epithelial cells by E. tenella sporozoites is inhibited in the presence of carvacrol, curcumin, or EP and enhanced by betaine. There may be potential for developing these phytochemicals as anti-coccidial feed or water additives for poultry. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-378
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2013


  • MDBK
  • Carvacrol
  • Curcumin
  • Betaine
  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Eimeria tenella

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