• parasitophorous vacuole;
  • rhoptries;
  • micronemes;
  • dense granules;
  • secretory granules;
  • coccidia;
  • intracellular parasitism;
  • zoites;
  • enteric forms;
  • Eimeria;
  • Toxoplasma;
  • Sarcocystis;
  • Cryptosporidium


We present a short insight into the problem of parasitophorous vacuole (PV) formation as a most peculiar kind of cell vacuolization occurring in the course of intracellular development of coccidian pathogens of the genera Eimeria, Isospora, Toxoplasma, Sarcocystis, Cryptosporidium, Epieimeria, and Karyolysus. The review focuses on the morpho-functional diversity of PVs in these parasites. By the present time, the PVs containing different parasite genera and species have been examined to different extent. The membrane of the PV (PVM) obviously derives from the host cell plasmalemma. But soon after parasite penetration, the morphofunctional organization and biochemical composition of the PVM drastically changes: its proteins are selectively excluded and those of the parasite are incorporated. As the result, the PV becomes not fusigenic for lysosomes or any other vacuoles or vesicles, because host cell surface markers necessary for membrane fusion are eliminated from the PVM during parasite invasion.

The pattern of the PVs is parasite specific and demonstrates a broad diversity within the same genera and species and even at different stages of the endogenous development. The PV is far from being an indifferent membrane vesicle containing the parasite. Instead, it represents a dynamic system that reflects the innermost events of host—parasite relationships, thus promoting the accomplishing of the parasite life cycle, which, in its turn, is a necessary prerequisite of the parasite eventual survival as a species.