Murine model of pregnancy-associated Listeria monocytogenes infection

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003 Apr 1;35(3):177-82. doi: 10.1016/S0928-8244(02)00449-2.


Listeria monocytogenes has been recognized as a significant pathogen, occurring worldwide, capable of causing animal and human infections. In its most severe form, listeriosis is an invasive disease that affects immunocompromised patients. Additionally, pregnant women represent a high-risk group for L. monocytogenes infection. Abortion, stillbirth or severe neonatal infection can be the serious outcome of such an infection. In an experimental murine model of pregnancy-associated listeriosis we studied the impact of L. monocytogenes on the maternal immune response and pregnancy outcome. In comparison to virgin animals, pregnant mice mounted lower levels of protective cytokines and were unable to eliminate the pathogen. The impaired maternal immune response that has been found both on the systemic and local level, facilitated bacterial multiplication in the liver, placenta and ultimately in the fetal tissues. This resulted in severe necrotizing hemorrhagic hepatitis and Listeria-induced placental necrosis, increasing the incidence of postimplantation loss and poor pregnancy outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Veterinary / etiology
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / etiology
  • Fetal Diseases / etiology
  • Hepatitis / etiology
  • Hepatitis / microbiology
  • Listeriosis* / immunology
  • Listeriosis* / metabolism
  • Listeriosis* / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Necrosis
  • Placenta Diseases / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome


  • Cytokines