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Effectiveness of the sesquiterpene (-)-α-bisabolol in dogs with naturally acquired canine leishmaniosis: an exploratory clinical trial


The use of natural products is a promising approach for treating visceral leishmaniosis. (-)-α-Bisabolol is a sesquiterpene that have been proved active in vivo on Leishmania infantum-infected mice without showing toxicity. A single-centre, parallel-group, randomized, exploratory study was designed to assess its efficacy in a canine leishmaniosis model involving naturally infected dogs. In this clinical trial, 12 dogs were allocated into two groups and were treated with either meglumine antimoniate (100 mg/kg) through subcutaneous route or (-)-α-bisabolol (30 mg/kg) through oral route for two treatment series of 30 days, separated by a 30-day interval. A 4-month follow-up period was established as well. Parasite loads in bone marrow, lymph node and blood were estimated through quantitative PCR. Antibody titres were determined through immunofluorescence antibody test and cytokine expression values were estimated through real-time reverse transcription-PCR. Treatment safety was assessed through the evaluation of weight, gastrointestinal alterations and hematological and biochemical parameters in blood. Analyses were performed before and after treatment, and after a 4-months follow-up period. Treatment with the sesquiterpene was effective at decreasing parasite loads and increasing gamma-interferon expression level. Dogs treated with (-)-α-bisabolol did not show any toxicity sign. These results were better than those obtained using the reference drug, meglumine antimoniate. The natural compound seemed to induce a Th1 immune response that led to parasitological and clinical improvement without showing any safety issue, suggesting a high potential for the treatment of canine and human visceral leishmaniosis.

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The authors wish to thank the animal shelter Sociedad Protectora de Animales y Plantas (Fuente Vaqueros, Spain), registered as an animal husbandry centre (register number ES190790000096), which provided the use of its facilities for the experiment. This work was supported by the University of Granada CEI-Biotic project 2013/1/4 and a University of Granada Research Results Transfer Grant Program, Pilot Prototypes and Experiences PR/12/011.

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Correspondence to V. Corpas-López or J. Martín-Sánchez.

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The experiment, including owners’ informed consent, housing, treatment and sampling, was approved by the Ethics Committee of Animal Experimentation (CEEA) of the University of Granada, the Andalusia Committee of Animal Experimentation and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Andalusia Government, in accordance with the EU Directive 2010/63/EU.

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All authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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Corpas-López, V., Merino-Espinosa, G., Acedo-Sánchez, C. et al. Effectiveness of the sesquiterpene (-)-α-bisabolol in dogs with naturally acquired canine leishmaniosis: an exploratory clinical trial. Vet Res Commun 42, 121–130 (2018).

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  • (-)-α-bisabolol
  • Canine leishmaniosis
  • Treatment
  • Sesquiterpene
  • Oral route