In the past decade, research on the functions of extracellular vesicles in malaria has expanded dramatically. Investigations into the various vesicle types, from both host and parasite origin, has revealed important roles for extracellular vesicles in disease pathogenesis and susceptibility, as well as cell-cell communication and immune responses. Here, Researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research discuss work relating to extracellular vesicles in malaria, and the areas that remain unknown and require further investigations are highlighted.
Extracellular vesicle involvement in malaria disease
Extracellular vesicles from both host and parasite origin are released during malaria infection. Exosomes and microvesicles from iRBC have been described, and found to contain parasite material, be pro-inflammatory, induce gametocytogenesis, and mediate cell–cell communication between parasites. Host-derived microvesicles/microparticles released from endothelial cells, platelets, monocytes and erythrocytes have been shown to be involved in malaria disease severity and pathology, in particular in cerebral malaria. Host microvesicles likely contribute to the iRBC cytoadhesion to the vascular endothelium