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Caveolae containing grape-like tubulovesicular structures were observed in the cytoplasm and in the parasitophorous vacuole of ring- and trophozoite-stage Plasmodium falciparum parasites. In appliqué-forms intact caveolae and free vesicles were also seen to bud off the surface of infected erythrocytes directly from the parasitophorous vacuole where the parasite was in close vicinity to the host cell membrane. The mean vesicle diameter was 0.08-0.1 micron. No such structure was observed in schizonts, segmenters or in the cytoplasm of infected or uninfected erythrocytes. These structures may represent morphological evidence in P. falciparum of a "window" through which the parasite would have direct access to the extracellular milieu. They may constitute carrier vesicles containing parasite membrane transport molecules possibly involved in malaria pathogenesis and/or immunity.

Original publication




Journal article


International journal for parasitology

Publication Date





1007 - 1012


UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, Geneva, Switzerland.


Erythrocytes, Cell Membrane, Animals, Plasmodium falciparum, Biological Transport