Anthelmintic effects of forage chicory (Cichorium intybus) against free-living and parasitic stages of Cooperia oncophora

Miguel Angel Pena-Espinoza, Andrew R. Williams, Stig M. Thamsborg, Henrik Toft Simonsen, Heidi L. Enemark

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Chicory shows great promise as an anthelmintic forage for grazing ruminants that can reduce reliance on anti-parasitic drugs. Recently, we reported potent anthelmintic effects of chicory-based diets in infected cattle with significant reductions in worm burdens of the abomasal nematode Ostertagia ostertagi, whilst no apparent activity was observed against the small intestinal parasite Cooperia oncophora. To explore this discrepancy, we investigated direct anthelmintic effects of forage chicory against C. oncophora in vitro. Chicory leaves (cultivar ‘Spadona’) were extracted with methanol in a Soxhlet apparatus and the resulting extract was purified by solid-phase extraction to concentrate bioactive phytochemicals such as sesquiterpene lactones. C. oncophora eggs and adult worms from mono-infected donor calves were exposed to decreasing concentrations of the chicory extract. In an egg hatch assay, the chicory extract induced a marked and dose-dependent inhibition of egg hatching, with 95% inhibition at 2500 μg extract/mL (EC50 = 619 [95% CI: 530–722] μg extract/mL). In the adult motility inhibition assays, the chicory extract induced a potent and dose-dependent worm paralysis. At 12 h of incubation, worms exposed to chicory showed a total paralysis at ≥500 μg extract/mL, while after 48 h of incubation a complete inhibition of worm motility was observed at ≥250 μg extract/mL (EC50 = 80 [95% CI: 67–95] μg extract/mL). We have demonstrated that forage chicory can induce potent inhibitory effects on the egg hatching and exert direct anthelmintic activity against parasitic stages of C. oncophora. These results suggest that the previously reported absence of in vivo effects of chicory towards C. oncophora in infected animals may be related with host-mediated factors and/or inhibitory digestive conditions, rather than an inherent inactivity of chicory and its bioactive phytochemicals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Pages (from-to)204-207
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Forage chicory
  • Anthelmintic
  • Nematode
  • Cooperia oncophora
  • Cattle


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