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Cell Microbiol. 2001 May;3(5):331-40.

Dendritic cells are early cellular targets of Listeria monocytogenes after intestinal delivery and are involved in bacterial spread in the host.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U 411, 75015 Paris, France.


We studied the sequence of cellular events leading to the dissemination of Listeria monocytogenes from the gut to draining mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) by confocal microscopy of immunostained tissue sections from a rat ligated ileal loop system. OX-62-positive cells beneath the epithelial lining of Peyer's patches (PPs) were the first Listeria targets identified after intestinal inoculation. These cells had other features typical of dendritic cells (DCs): they were large, pleiomorphic and major histocompatibility complex class II(hi). Listeria were detected by microscopy in draining MLNs as early as 6 h after inoculation. Some 80-90% of bacteria were located in the deep paracortical regions, and 100% of the bacteria were present in OX-62-positive cells. Most infected cells contained more than five bacteria each, suggesting that they had arrived already loaded with bacteria. At later stages, the bacteria in these areas were mostly present in ED1-positive mononuclear phagocytes. These cells were also infected by an actA mutant defective in cell-to-cell spreading. This suggests that Listeria are transported by DCs from PPs to the deep paracortical regions of draining MLNs and are then transmitted to other cell populations by mechanisms independent of ActA. Another pathway of dissemination to MLNs was identified, probably involving free Listeria and leading to the infection of ED3-positive mononuclear phagocytes in the subcapsular sinus and adjacent paracortical areas. This study provides evidence that DCs are major cellular targets of L. monocytogenes in PPs and that DCs may be involved in the early dissemination of this pathogen. DCs were not sites of active bacterial replication, making these cells ideal vectors of infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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