Extracellular Vesicles in the Pathogenesis of Viral Infections in Humans

Viruses. 2020 Oct 21;12(10):1200. doi: 10.3390/v12101200.


Most cells can release extracellular vesicles (EVs), membrane vesicles containing various proteins, nucleic acids, enzymes, and signaling molecules. The exchange of EVs between cells facilitates intercellular communication, amplification of cellular responses, immune response modulation, and perhaps alterations in viral pathogenicity. EVs serve a dual role in inhibiting or enhancing viral infection and pathogenesis. This review examines the current literature on EVs to explore the complex role of EVs in the enhancement, inhibition, and potential use as a nanotherapeutic against clinically relevant viruses, focusing on neurotropic viruses: Zika virus (ZIKV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Overall, this review's scope will elaborate on EV-based mechanisms, which impact viral pathogenicity, facilitate viral spread, and modulate antiviral immune responses.

Keywords: HIV; ZIKA; coronavirus; exosomes; extracellular vesicles (EVs); herpes virus; pathology; retrovirus; therapeutics; viruses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Coronavirus / metabolism
  • Coronavirus / pathogenicity
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • HIV / metabolism
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Retroviridae / metabolism
  • Simplexvirus / metabolism
  • Therapeutics / methods
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Zika Virus / metabolism
  • Zika Virus / pathogenicity
  • Zika Virus Infection / metabolism


  • Antiviral Agents