Listeria-based vaccines for cancer treatment

Curr Opin Mol Ther. 2005 Oct;7(5):454-60.


Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular bacterium that enters professional antigen-presenting cells by active phagocytosis. As a live bacterium, it induces antigen-presenting cell maturation and strong innate immunity which may assist in the immune response to poorly immunogenic antigens, such as tumor-associated antigens. Listeria produces virulence factors that allow it to escape from the phagolysosome and colonize the cytosol of the host cell. It is thus a potent vaccine vector for the presentation of passenger antigens to the major histocompatibility complex class I and II pathways of antigen processing and presentation. Recent progress in developing this bacterium as a vaccine vector for tumor-associated antigens is reviewed. In mouse models, recombinant Listeria carrying a number of such antigens has provided therapeutic immunity directed towards established tumors. Safety issues associated with live bacterial vaccine vectors and problems to be overcome in developing Listeria as a cancer immunotherapeutic for human use are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / administration & dosage*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Cancer Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / pathogenicity
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Plasmids / genetics


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines