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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 589130, 17 pages
Review Article

Role of Gap Junctions and Hemichannels in Parasitic Infections

1Departamento de Fisiología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 8330025 Santiago, Chile
2Laboratorio de Fisiología Experimental (EPhyL), Instituto Antofagasta (IA), Universidad de Antofagasta, 1270300 Antofagasta, Chile
3Inmunología, Departamento de Tecnología Médica, Universidad de Antofagasta, 1270300 Antofagasta, Chile
4Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8023, USA
5Unidad de Parasitología Molecular, Facultad Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Antofagasta, 1270300 Antofagasta, Chile

Received 21 May 2013; Revised 7 August 2013; Accepted 26 August 2013

Academic Editor: Christophe Duranton

Copyright © 2013 José Luis Vega et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In vertebrates, connexins (Cxs) and pannexins (Panxs) are proteins that form gap junction channels and/or hemichannels located at cell-cell interfaces and cell surface, respectively. Similar channel types are formed by innexins in invertebrate cells. These channels serve as pathways for cellular communication that coordinate diverse physiologic processes. However, it is known that many acquired and inherited diseases deregulate Cx and/or Panx channels, condition that frequently worsens the pathological state of vertebrates. Recent evidences suggest that Cx and/or Panx hemichannels play a relevant role in bacterial and viral infections. Nonetheless, little is known about the role of Cx- and Panx-based channels in parasitic infections of vertebrates. In this review, available data on changes in Cx and gap junction channel changes induced by parasitic infections are summarized. Additionally, we describe recent findings that suggest possible roles of hemichannels in parasitic infections. Finally, the possibility of new therapeutic designs based on hemichannel blokers is presented.