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We carried out an electron-microscopy study on in vitro cultures of Plasmodium falciparum, whose general ultrastructural features are consistent with previous reports. In addition, whorled membrane-vesicles systems involving parasite and host-cells, never described to our knowledge up to now. As far as the parasite is concerned, these membraneous systems appear to be related to its growth and its connection with the external medium, with the possible involvement of Maurer's clefts. As for the erythrocyte, surface vesicles prove to be related to plasmodial infection in long-term in vitro culture. Richness in membranous structures of the complex host-parasite varies according to the metabolic demand of the plasmodium (i.e. on the life-cycle stage) and is influenced by external factors, possibly being a marker of drug action.


Journal article



Publication Date





137 - 144


Institute of Infectious Diseases, University of Pavia, Italy.


Erythrocytes, Erythrocyte Membrane, Intracellular Membranes, Animals, Plasmodium falciparum, Microscopy, Electron, Host-Parasite Interactions