Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Infect Immun. 2001 Mar;69(3):1344-50.

Listeria monocytogenes-infected phagocytes can initiate central nervous system infection in mice.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center and the Harold Muchmore Laboratories for Infectious Diseases Research of the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA.


Listeria monocytogenes-infected phagocytes are present in the bloodstream of experimentally infected mice, but whether they play a role in central nervous system (CNS) invasion is unclear. To test whether bacteria within infected leukocytes could establish CNS infection, experimentally infected mice were treated with gentamicin delivered by surgically implanted osmotic pumps. Bacterial inhibitory titers in serum and plasma ranged from 1:16 to 1:256, and essentially all viable bacteria in the bloodstream of treated mice were leukocyte associated. Nevertheless, CNS infection developed in gentamicin-treated animals infected intraperitoneally or by gastric lavage, suggesting that intracellular bacteria could be responsible for neuroinvasion. This was supported by data showing that 43.5% of bacteria found with blood leukocytes were intracellular and some colocalized with F-actin, indicating productive intracellular parasitism. Experiments using an L. monocytogenes strain containing a chromosomal actA-gfpuv-plcB transcriptional fusion showed that blood leukocytes were associated with intracellular and extracellularly bound green fluorescent protein-expressing (GFP+) bacteria. Treatment with gentamicin decreased the numbers of extracellularly bound GFP+ bacteria significantly but did not affect the numbers of intracellular GFP+ bacteria, suggesting that the latter were the result of intercellular spread of GFP+ bacteria to leukocytes. These data demonstrate that infected leukocytes and the intracellular L. monocytogenes harbored within them play key roles in neuroinvasion. Moreover, they suggest that phagocytes recruited to infected organs such as the liver or spleen are themselves parasitized by intercellular spread of L. monocytogenes and then reenter the bloodstream and contribute to the systemic dissemination of bacteria.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk