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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2017 Mar;15(3):149-159. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.178. Epub 2017 Jan 16.

A journey into the brain: insight into how bacterial pathogens cross blood-brain barriers.

Coureuil M1,2,3, Lécuyer H1,2,3,4, Bourdoulous S3,5,6, Nassif X1,2,3,4.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U1151, Institut Necker-Enfants Malades, 14 Rue Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, 75014 Paris, France.
Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) UMR 8253, 75014 Paris, France.
Faculté de Médecine, Université Paris Descartes, 75014 Paris, France.
Laboratoire de Microbiologie Clinique, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, 75015 Paris, France.
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U1016, Institut Cochin, 22 Rue Méchain, 75014 Paris, France.
Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) UMR 8104, 75014 Paris, France.


The blood-brain barrier, which is one of the tightest barriers in the body, protects the brain from insults, such as infections. Indeed, only a few of the numerous blood-borne bacteria can cross the blood-brain barrier to cause meningitis. In this Review, we focus on invasive extracellular pathogens, such as Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, group B Streptococcus and Escherichia coli, to review the obstacles that bacteria have to overcome in order to invade the meninges from the bloodstream, and the specific skills they have developed to bypass the blood-brain barrier. The medical importance of understanding how these barriers can be circumvented is underlined by the fact that we need to improve drug delivery into the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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