Medical Microbiology and Immunology

, Volume 196, Issue 3, pp 127–133 | Cite as

Live and let die: manipulation of host hepatocytes by exoerythrocytic Plasmodium parasites

  • Angelika Sturm
  • Volker HeusslerEmail author


The generation of rodent Plasmodium strains expressing fluorescent proteins in all life cycle stages has had a big impact on malaria research. With this tool in hand, for the first time it was possible to follow in real time by in vivo microscopy the infection route of Plasmodium sporozoites transmitted to the mammalian host by Anopheles mosquitoes. Recently, this work has been extended to the analysis of both hepatocyte infection by Plasmodium sporozoites, as well as liver merozoite transport into blood vessels. The stunning results of these studies have considerably changed our understanding of hepatocyte invasion and parasite liberation. Here, we describe the most important findings of the last years and in addition, we elaborate on the molecular events during the intracellular development of Plasmodium exoerythrocytic forms that give rise to erythrocyte infecting merozoites.


Exoerythrocytic Plasmodium parasites Merosome formation Intravital imaging Programmed cell death 



We thank Prof. M. Mota for providing the cartoon with the revised life cycle of Plasmodium. Gordon Langsley and Christina Deschermeier are thanked for critically reading the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical MedicineHamburgGermany

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