In vitro anthelmintic effects of Spigelia anthelmia protein fractions against Haemonchus contortus

Gastrointestinal nematodes are a significant concern for animal health and well-being, and anthelmintic treatment is mainly performed through the use of chemical products. However, bioactive compounds produced by plants have shown promise for development as novel anthelmintics. The aim of this study is to assess the anthelmintic activity of protein fractions from Spigelia anthelmia on the gastrointestinal nematode Haemonchus contortus. Plant parts were separated into leaves, stems and roots, washed with distilled water, freeze-dried and ground into a fine powder. Protein extraction was performed with sodium phosphate buffer (75 mM, pH 7.0). The extract was fractionated using ammonium sulfate (0–90%) and extensively dialyzed. The resulting fractions were named LPF (leaf protein fraction), SPF (stem protein fraction) and RPF (root protein fraction), and the protein contents and activities of the fractions were analyzed. H. contortus egg hatching (EHA), larval exsheathment inhibition (LEIA) and larval migration inhibition (LMIA) assays were performed. Proteomic analysis was conducted, and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) chromatographic profiles of the fractions were established to identify proteins and possible secondary metabolites. S. anthelmia fractions inhibited H. contortus egg hatching, with LPF having the most potent effects (EC50 0.17 mg mL-1). During LEIA, SPF presented greater efficiency than the other fractions (EC50 0.25 mg mL-1). According to LMIA, the fractions from roots, stems and leaves also reduced the number of larvae, with EC50 values of 0.11, 0.14 and 0.21 mg mL-1, respectively. Protein analysis indicated the presence of plant defense proteins in the S. anthelmia fractions, including protease, protease inhibitor, chitinase and others. Conversely, secondary metabolites were absent in the S. anthemia fractions. These results suggest that S. anthelmia proteins are promising for the control of the gastrointestinal nematode H. contortus.