Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 279–291 | Cite as

Role of Exosomes in Human Retroviral Mediated Disorders

  • Monique Anderson
  • Fatah Kashanchi
  • Steven Jacobson


Retroviruses comprise an ancient and varied group of viruses with the unique ability to integrate DNA from an RNA transcript into the genome, a subset of which are able to integrate in humans. The timing of these integrations during human history has dictated whether these viruses have remained exogenous and given rise to various human diseases or have become inseparable from the host genome (endogenous retroviruses). Given the ability of retroviruses to integrate into the host and subsequently co-opt host cellular process for viral propagation, retroviruses have been shown to be closely associated with several cellular processes including exosome formation. Exosomes are 30-150 nm unilamellar extracellular vesicles that originate from intraluminal vesicles (ILVs) that form in the endosomal compartment. Exosomes have been shown to be important in intercellular communication and immune cell function. Almost every cell type studied has been shown to produce these types of vesicles, with the cell type dictating the contents, which include proteins, mRNA, and miRNAs. Importantly, recent evidence has shown that infection by viruses, including retroviruses, alter the contents and subsequent function of produced exosomes. In this review, we will discuss the important retroviruses associated with human health and disease. Furthermore, we will delve into the impact of exosome formation and manipulation by integrated retroviruses on human health, survival, and human retroviral disease pathogenesis.


Exosomes Intraluminal vesicles (ILV) Transposable element Retroviruses Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) Provirus Endosomal sorting complexes required fro transport (ESCRT) 



Studies involving HTLV-1 were funded internally by NINDS.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Anderson M declares that she has no conflicts of interest. Kashanchi F declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Jacobson S declares that he has no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consents were obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monique Anderson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fatah Kashanchi
    • 3
  • Steven Jacobson
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Neuroimmunology Branch, Viral Immunology SectionNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease Graduate ProgramUniversity of Virginia School of MedicineCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Disease, Laboratory of Molecular VirologyGeorge Mason UniversityManassasUSA

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