Malaria parasite pre-erythrocytic stage infection: gliding and hiding

Cell Host Microbe. 2008 Sep 11;4(3):209-18. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2008.08.010.


In malaria, the red blood cell-infectious form of the Plasmodium parasite causes illness and the possible death of infected hosts. The initial infection in the liver caused by the mosquito-borne sporozoite parasite stage, however, causes little pathology and no symptoms. Nevertheless, pre-erythrocytic parasite stages are attracting passionate research efforts not least because they are the most promising targets for malaria vaccine development. Here, we review how the infectious sporozoite makes its way to the liver and subsequently develops within hepatocytes. We discuss the factors, both parasite and host, involved in the interactions that occur during this "silent" phase of infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / parasitology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Malaria / metabolism
  • Malaria / parasitology*
  • Merozoites / growth & development
  • Merozoites / metabolism
  • Plasmodium / genetics
  • Plasmodium / growth & development*
  • Plasmodium / metabolism
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Sporozoites / growth & development
  • Sporozoites / metabolism