Effect of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) essential oils on Trypanosoma cruzi (Protozoa: Kinetoplastida) growth and ultrastructure
In the present work, we have investigated the effect of essential oils obtained from Origanum vulgare L. (oregano) and Thymus vulgaris L. (thyme) on growth and ultrastructure of diverse evolutive forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. Culture epimastigotes and bloodstream trypomastigotes were incubated for 24 h with different concentrations of oregano or thyme essential oils and with thymol (the main constituent of thyme), and the inhibitory concentration (IC)50 was determined by cell counting. Crude extract of oregano essential oil inhibited epimastigote growth (IC50/24 h = 175 μg/ml) and also induced trypomastigote lysis (IC50/24 h = 115 μg/ml). Thyme essential oil presented IC50/24 h values of 77 μg/ml for epimastigotes and 38 μg/ml for trypomastigotes, while treatment with thymol resulted in an IC50/24 h of 62 μg/ml for epimastigotes and 53 μg/ml for trypomastigotes. Scanning electron microscopy of treated cells showed few morphological alterations at the plasma membrane. Observation by transmission electron microscopy showed cytoplasmic swelling with occasional morphological alterations in plasma and flagellar membrane. Our data indicate that oregano and thyme essential oils are effective against T. cruzi, with higher activity of thyme, and that thymol may be the main component responsible for the trypanocidal activity.