Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite that infects the gastrointestinal epithelium and other mucosal surfaces in humans and animals, is an important opportunistic pathogen in AIDS patients and one of the most common enteric pathogens affecting young children in developing regions. This parasite is referred to as a “minimally invasive” mucosal pathogen, and epithelial cells play a central role in activating and orchestrating host immune responses. We previously demonstrated that Cryptosporidium parvum infection stimulates host epithelial cells to release exosomes, and these released exosomes shuttle several antimicrobial peptides to carry out anti-C. parvum activity. In this study, we detected the upregulation of inflammatory genes in the liver and spleen following C. parvum intestinal infection in neonatal mice. Interestingly, exosomes released from intestinal epithelial cells following C. parvum infection could activate the nuclear factor kappa B signaling pathway and trigger inflammatory gene transcription in isolated primary splenocytes. Several epithelial cell-derived proteins and a subset of parasite RNAs were detected in the exosomes released from C. parvum-infected intestinal epithelial cells. Shuttling of these effector molecules, including the high mobility group box 1 protein, was involved in the induction of inflammatory responses in splenocytes induced by the exosomes released from infected cells. Our data indicate that exosomes released from intestinal epithelial cells upon C. parvum infection can activate immune cells by shuttling various effector molecules, a process that may be relevant to host systemic responses to Cryptosporidium infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases