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Artemisinin and Artemisia annua leaves alleviate Eimeria tenella infection by facilitating apoptosis of host cells and suppressing inflammatory response

Jiao, JinYing, Yang, YunQiao, Liu, MingJiang, Li, JinGui, Cui, Yi, Yin, ShaoJie, Tao, JianPing
Veterinary parasitology 2018 v.254 pp. 172-177
Artemisia annua, Eimeria tenella, apoptosis, artemisinin, caspase-3, cecum, chickens, coccidiosis, diarrhea, inflammation, interleukin-17, leaves, messenger RNA, parasites, pro-apoptotic proteins, schizonts, transcription factor NF-kappa B
Evasion strategies of intracellular parasites by hijacking cellular pathways, are necessary to ensure successful survival and replication. Eimeria tenella (E. tenella) has the ability to circumvent apoptosis of infected cells through increased expression of the transcriptional factor NF-κB and the anti-apoptotic factor Bcl-xL during the development of second generation schizonts. Artemisinin (ART) and its original plant, the dried leaves of Artemisia annua (LAA) have been shown to be effective against avian coccidiosis, however, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We showed that E. tenella infection promoted the expression of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and inhibited the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins Bax and cleaved caspase-3 at 60 h post infection (PI), with a higher ratio of Bcl-2 to Bax. Nevertheless, the expression trends of Bcl-2, Bax and caspase-3 were reversed at 120 h and 192 h PI. ART treatment significantly abrogated Bcl-2 expression, whereas it promoted the expression levels of Bax and cleaved caspase-3 at the three time points above. Additionally, ART remarkably suppressed the increased mRNA expressions of NF-κB and interleukin-17A in ceca during infection by E. tenella. Compared with the ART treatment, LAA treatment exerted more improvements in clinical symptoms, promoting apoptosis and suppressing inflammatory response. These alterations caused by ART and LAA treatments were consistent with the reduced clinical diarrhea and pathological improvements in chicken ceca. Collectively, these results indicate that the inhibitory effects of ART or LAA on E. tenella infection may work through facilitating the apoptosis of infected host cells and inhibiting the inflammatory response.