Sending a message: extracellular vesicles of pathogenic protozoan parasites

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Nov;14(11):669-675. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.110. Epub 2016 Sep 12.


Parasitic unicellular eukaryotes use extracellular vesicles (EVs) as vehicles for intercellular communication and host manipulation. By using various mechanisms to generate EVs and by transferring a wide range of molecules through EVs, pathogenic protozoans are able to establish infective niches, modulate the immune system of the host and cause disease. In addition to effects on the host, EVs are able to transfer virulence factors, drug-resistance genes and differentiation factors between parasites. In this Progress article, we explore recent insights into the biology of EVs from human infectious protozoan parasites, including Trichomonas vaginalis, Plasmodium spp. and kinetoplastids, such as Trypanosoma spp. and Leishmania spp.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Communication*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / physiology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Leishmania / immunology
  • Leishmania / pathogenicity
  • Leishmania / physiology
  • Parasites / immunology
  • Parasites / pathogenicity
  • Parasites / physiology*
  • Plasmodium / immunology
  • Plasmodium / pathogenicity
  • Plasmodium / physiology
  • Trichomonas vaginalis / immunology
  • Trichomonas vaginalis / pathogenicity
  • Trichomonas vaginalis / physiology
  • Trypanosoma / immunology
  • Trypanosoma / pathogenicity
  • Trypanosoma / physiology
  • Virulence Factors / physiology


  • Virulence Factors