Histopathology of Listeria Meningitis

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2018 Oct 1;77(10):950-957. doi: 10.1093/jnen/nly077.


Listeria monocytogenes meningitis is the third most common cause of bacterial meningitis in adults and has high mortality and morbidity rates. We describe the clinical course and score brain pathology of 5 patients who died of listeria meningitis. All patients were immunocompromised and ages ranged between 48 and 76 years. Three cases were confirmed by cerebrospinal fluid culture; one was confirmed by brain culture; and one diagnosis was based on a positive blood culture and neuropathological findings. Mild inflammation of meningeal arteries was found in 3 of 5 cases (60%). Moderate/severe ventriculitis was seen in 4 of 4 cases (100%), abscesses in 3 of 4 cases (75%), mild vascular inflammation in 4 of 5 cases (80%), mild/moderate hemorrhage in 2 of 4 cases (50%), mild/moderate thrombosis of meningeal artery in 3 of 5 cases (60%), and 1 case (25%) showed a moderate infarct. The inflammatory cells present in the meninges were characterized by a mix of monocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils and removal of apoptotic inflammatory cells by macrophages (efferocytosis). Gram stain showed intra- and extracellular presence of rod-shaped bacteria in 3 cases. Pathological examination was characterized by moderate to severe ventriculitis, abscesses and abundant efferocytosis which has been suggested to be exploited by L. monocytogenes for cell-to-cell spread.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / pathology*
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Listeria / diagnostic imaging*
  • Meningitis, Listeria / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies