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Vertical Transmission of Listeria monocytogenes: Probing the Balance between Protection from Pathogens and Fetal Tolerance

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2018, 7(2), 52;
Received: 4 March 2018 / Revised: 16 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 25 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Listeria monocytogenes and Its Interactions with the Host)
Protection of the developing fetus from pathogens is one of the many critical roles of the placenta. Listeria monocytogenes is one of a select number of pathogens that can cross the placental barrier and cause significant harm to the fetus, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, preterm labor, and disseminated neonate infection despite antibiotic treatment. Such severe outcomes serve to highlight the importance of understanding how L. monocytogenes mediates infiltration of the placental barrier. Here, we review what is currently known regarding vertical transmission of L. monocytogenes as a result of cell culture and animal models of infection. In vitro cell culture and organ models have been useful for the identification of L. monocytogenes virulence factors that contribute to placental invasion. Examples include members of the Internalin family of bacterial surface proteins such as Interalin (Inl)A, InlB, and InlP that promote invasion of cells at the maternal-fetal interface. A number of animal models have been used to interrogate L. monocytogenes vertical transmission, including mice, guinea pigs, gerbils, and non-human primates; each of these models has advantages while still not providing a comprehensive understanding of L. monocytogenes invasion of the human placenta and/or fetus. These models do, however, allow for the molecular investigation of the balance between fetal tolerance and immune protection from L. monocytogenes during pregnancy. View Full-Text
Keywords: pregnancy; vertical transmission; placenta; immunology; model systems pregnancy; vertical transmission; placenta; immunology; model systems
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Lamond, N.M.; Freitag, N.E. Vertical Transmission of Listeria monocytogenes: Probing the Balance between Protection from Pathogens and Fetal Tolerance. Pathogens 2018, 7, 52.

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