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Exosomes and Other Extracellular Vesicles: The New Communicators in Parasite Infections

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    Rights statement: 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-489
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have emerged as a ubiquitous mechanism for transferring information between cells and organisms across all three kingdoms of life. In addition to their roles in normal physiology, vesicles also transport molecules from pathogens to hosts and can spread antigens as well as infectious agents. Although initially described in the host-pathogen context for their functions in immune surveillance, vesicles enable multiple modes of communication by, and between, parasites. Here we review the literature demonstrating that EVs are secreted by intracellular and extracellular eukaryotic parasites, as well as their hosts, and detail the functional properties of these vesicles in maturation, pathogenicity and survival. We further describe the prospects for targeting or exploiting these complexes in therapeutic and vaccine strategies.

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