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In vitro effects of extracts and purified tannins of sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) against two cattle nematodes

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Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) is a condensed tannin (CT)-containing legume and has anthelmintic potential against gastrointestinal nematodes of ruminants. This study investigated in vitro effects of acetone/water extracts and derived CT fractions from different types of sainfoin (i.e. accessions) against larvae of Cooperia oncophora and Ostertagia ostertagi by applying the larval feeding inhibition assay (LFIA). Seven sainfoin accessions were extracted and tested with L1 larvae at 10 and 40 μg extract/ml. In addition, CT in extracts from 4 accessions were fractionated according to polymer size and tested by LFIA at two concentrations (2 and 10 μg CT fraction/ml). All sainfoin extracts caused significant inhibition of L1-feeding of both C. oncophora and O. ostertagi with varying intensity compared to the control (phosphate buffered saline). For both nematode species the in vitro effect was positively correlated with CT content in the extracts, but not with any of the structural CT parameters. In contrast, the 16 CT fractions revealed significant correlations between in vitro effect and CT content, polymer size (mean degree of polymerisation, mDP) and monomeric composition (prodelphinidin percentage, % PD). These differences between crude extracts and purified fractions may stem from the fact that extracts contain complex CT mixtures, which may mask and thus suppress CT structural effects. This study provides the first indication that, apart from CT and % PD content, polymer size also contributes to anthelmintic activity of CTs. The results, therefore, suggest that the inter-accession variability in CT content and composition needs to be taken into account in future plant breeding programmes which seek to enhance the anthelmintic properties of sainfoin

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