Extracellular vesicles secreted by Echinococcus multilocularis: important players in angiogenesis promotion

Microbes Infect. 2023 Sep-Oct;25(7):105147. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2023.105147. Epub 2023 May 2.


The involvement of Echinococcus multilocularis, and other parasitic helminths, in regulating host physiology is well recognized, but molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by helminths play important roles in regulating parasite-host interactions by transferring materials to the host. Analysis of protein cargo of EVs from E. multilocularis protoscoleces in the present study revealed a unique composition exclusively associated with vesicle biogenesis. Common proteins in various Echinococcus species were identified, including the classical EVs markers tetraspanins, TSG101 and Alix. Further, unique tegumental antigens were identified which could be exploited as Echinococcus EV markers. Parasite- and host-derived proteins within these EVs are predicted to support important roles in parasite-parasite and parasite-host communication. In addition, the enriched host-derived protein payloads identified in parasite EVs in the present study suggested that they can be involved in focal adhesion and potentially promote angiogenesis. Further, increased angiogenesis was observed in livers of mice infected with E. multilocularis and the expression of several angiogenesis-regulated molecules, including VEGF, MMP9, MCP-1, SDF-1 and serpin E1 were increased. Significantly, EVs released by the E. multilocularis protoscolex promoted proliferation and tube formation by human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in vitro. Taken together, we present the first evidence that tapeworm-secreted EVs may promote angiogenesis in Echinococcus-infections, identifying central mechanisms of Echinococcus-host interactions.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Echinococcus multilocularis; Exosome; Extracellular vesicle; Proteomics; Protoscoleces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Echinococcosis* / metabolism
  • Echinococcosis* / parasitology
  • Echinococcus multilocularis*
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Mice