Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 199–208 | Cite as

Exosomes and their role in CNS viral infections

  • Gavin C. Sampey
  • Shabana S. Meyering
  • Mohammad Asad Zadeh
  • Mohammed Saifuddin
  • Ramin M. HakamiEmail author
  • Fatah KashanchiEmail author


Exosomes are small membrane-bound vesicles that carry biological macromolecules from the site of production to target sites either in the microenvironment or at distant sites away from the origin. Exosomal content of cells varies with the cell type that produces them as well as environmental factors that alter the normal state of the cell such as viral infection. Human DNA and RNA viruses alter the composition of host proteins as well as incorporate their own viral proteins and other cargo into the secreted exosomes. While numerous viruses can infect various cell types of the CNS and elicit damaging neuropathologies, few have been studied for their exosomal composition, content, and function on recipient cells. Therefore, there is a pressing need to understand how DNA and RNA viral infections in CNS control exosomal release. Some of the more recent studies including HIV-1, HTLV-1, and EBV-infected B cells indicate that exosomes from these infections contain viral miRNAs, viral transactivators, and a host of cytokines that can control the course of infection. Finally, because exosomes can serve as vehicles for the cellular delivery of proteins and RNA and given that the blood-brain barrier is a formidable challenge in delivering therapeutics to the brain, exosomes may be able to serve as ideal vehicles to deliver protein or RNA-based therapeutics to the brain.


Exosomes Virus Retrovirus Neurovirology Neuropathology Extracellular Signaling CNS 



We would like to thank the members of the Kashanchi lab for assistance with the manuscript. This work was supported by NIH grant AI070740 to FK and the Geneva Foundation grant W81XWH-11-0126 to RMH. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Geneva Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin C. Sampey
    • 1
  • Shabana S. Meyering
    • 1
  • Mohammad Asad Zadeh
    • 1
  • Mohammed Saifuddin
    • 1
  • Ramin M. Hakami
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fatah Kashanchi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, and School of Systems BiologyGeorge Mason UniversityManassasUSA

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