Listeria monocytogenes is a significant food borne pathogen of pregnant women that causes still birth and spontaneous abortion in 20% of cases and 68% of surviving pregnancies result in neonatal infection. Increased risk of infection during pregnancy is thought to be due, in part, to alterations in the maternal immune system to facilitate immune tolerance and prevent rejection of the fetal allograft. However, other mechanisms may also be at play. Listeria monocytogenes targets the maternal-fetal interface, particularly placental tissues. There are several possible explanations for how L. monocytogenes crosses the maternal-fetal barrier. Specific cell types that are targets for listerial invasion into the fetal placenta include syncytiotrophoblast and extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cells. Listerial cell entry into mammalian host cells is mediated by interactions between the bacterial cell wall proteins internalin A and internalin B, and E-cadherin and c-Met-tyrosine kinase, respectively, in non-phagocytic mammalian cells.
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Last date updated on June, 2014