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Open Access Research article

In vitro cytocidal effects of the essential oil from Croton cajucara (red sacaca) and its major constituent 7- hydroxycalamenene against Leishmania chagasi

Igor A Rodrigues12, Mariana M B Azevedo3, Francisco C M Chaves4, Humberto R Bizzo5, Suzana Corte-Real6, Daniela S Alviano1, Celuta S Alviano1, Maria S S Rosa1 and Alane B Vermelho1*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Paulo de Góes/UFRJ, 21941-590 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

2 Programa de Pós Graduação PAPD CAPES/FAPERJ, Instituto de Microbiologia Paulo de Góes/UFRJ, 21941-590 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

3 Programa de Pós Graduação Ciências dos Alimentos do Instituto de Química/UFRJ, 21941-590 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

4 Embrapa Amazônia Ocidental, CP 319, Manaus, AM 69010-970, Brazil

5 Embrapa Agroindústria de Alimentos, 23020-470, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

6 Laboratório de Biologia Estrutural, Plataforma Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (IOC), Manguinhos, 21040-360 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:249  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-249

Published: 2 October 2013

Abstract

Background

Visceral leishmaniasis is the most serious form of leishmaniasis and can be lethal if left untreated. Currently available treatments for these parasitic diseases are frequently associated to severe side effects. The leaves of Croton cajucara are used as an infusion in popular medicine to combat several diseases. Previous studies have demonstrated that the linalool-rich essential oil from C. cajucara (white sacaca) is extremely efficient against the tegumentary specie Leishmania amazonensis. In this study, we investigated the effects of the 7-hydroxycalamenene-rich essential oil from the leaves of C. cajucara (red sacaca) against Leishmania chagasi, as well as on the interaction of these parasites with host cells.

Methods

Promastigotes were treated with different concentrations of the essential oil for determination of its minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). In addition, the effects of the essential oil on parasite ultrastructure were analyzed by transmission electron microscopy. To evaluate its efficacy against infected cells, mouse peritoneal macrophages infected with L. chagasi promastigotes were treated with the inhibitory and sub-inhibitory concentrations of the essential oil.

Results

The minimum inhibitory concentrations of the essential oil and its purified component 7-hydroxycalamenene against L. chagasi were 250 and 15.6 μg/mL, respectively. Transmission electron microscopy analysis revealed important nuclear and kinetoplastic alterations in L. chagasi promastigotes. Pre-treatment of macrophages and parasites with the essential oil reduced parasite/macrophage interaction by 52.8%, while it increased the production of nitric oxide by L. chagasi-infected macrophages by 80%.

Conclusion

These results indicate that the 7-hydroxycalamenene-rich essential oil from C. cajucara is a promising source of leishmanicidal compounds.