Extracellular vesicles and leishmaniasis: Current knowledge and promising avenues for future development

Mol Immunol. 2021 Apr 16;135:73-83. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2021.04.003. Online ahead of print.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, membrane-bound "delivery trucks" that are present in the extracellular environment, including biological fluids. EVs are capable of inducing changes in the physiological status of neighboring cells through the transfer of key macromolecules, and are thought to play a role in a number of pathological processes. Leishmaniasis, caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania, is an important example. The biology of Leishmania EVs has been studied in detail, and findings point to their role in exacerbation of disease and potential involvement in the perpetuation of drug resistance. Furthermore, the use of EVs for development of vaccines has been explored, as well as their potential use in a number of fields as biomarkers of disease and drug resistance. Here we discuss the latest findings on EVs, with a particular focus on Leishmania, as well as potential avenues for their future development and clinical applications.

Keywords: Biomarker; Extracellular vesicle; Immune response; Leishmania; Vaccine.