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Infect Immun. 2003 Jan;71(1):95-100.

Antibodies present in normal human serum inhibit invasion of human brain microvascular endothelial cells by Listeria monocytogenes.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie, Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften der Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Listeria monocytogenes causes meningitis and encephalitis in humans and crosses the blood-brain barrier by yet unknown mechanisms. The interaction of the bacteria with different types of endothelial cells was recently analyzed, and it was shown that invasion into, but not adhesion to, human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC) depends on the product of the inlB gene, the surface molecule InlB, which is a member of the internalin multigene family. In the present study we analyzed the role of the medium composition in the interaction of L. monocytogenes with HBMEC, and we show that invasion of HBMEC is strongly inhibited in the presence of adult human serum. The strong inhibitory activity, which is not present in fetal calf serum, does not inhibit uptake by macrophage-like J774 cells but does also inhibit invasion of Caco-2 epithelial cells. The inhibitory component of human serum was identified as being associated with L. monocytogenes-specific antibodies present in the human serum. Human newborn serum (cord serum) shows only a weak inhibitory activity on the invasion of HBMEC by L. monocytogenes.

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