Anti-Trypanosomatidae Activity of Essential Oils and Their Main Components from Selected Medicinal Plants

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Kinetoplastida is a group of flagellated protozoa characterized by the presence of a kinetoplast, a structure which is part of a large mitochondria and contains DNA. Parasites of this group include genera such as Leishmania, that cause disease in humans and animals, and Phytomonas, that are capable of infecting plants. Due to the lack of treatments, the low efficacy, or the high toxicity of the employed therapeutic agents there is a need to seek potential alternative treatments. In the present work, the antiparasitic activity on Leishmania infantum and Phytomonas davidi of 23 essential oils (EOs) from plants of the Lamiaceae and Asteraceae families, extracted by hydrodistillation (HD) at laboratory scale and steam distillation (SD) in a pilot plant, were evaluated. The chemical compositions of the EOs were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Additionally, the cytotoxic activity on mammalian cells of the major components from the most active EOs was evaluated, and their anti-Phytomonas and anti-Leishmania effects analyzed. L. infantum was more sensitive to the EOs than P. davidi. The EOs with the best anti-kinetoplastid activity were S. montana, T. vulgaris, M. suaveolens, and L. luisieri. Steam distillation increased the linalyl acetate, β-caryophyllene, and trans-α-necrodyl acetate contents of the EOs, and decreased the amount of borneol and 1,8 cineol. The major active components of the EOs were tested, with thymol being the strongest anti-Phytomonas compound followed by carvacrol. Our study identified potential treatments against kinetoplastids.