Listeria monocytogenes

  • Arun K. Bhunia
Part of the Food Science Text Series book series (FSTS)


Listeria monocytogenes is an opportunistic intracellular pathogen. Historically, it has been recognized as a causative agent for listeriosis in animals; however, in the past few decades, it has been responsible for fatal foodborne diseases in immunocompromised individuals. It is one of the leading foodborne pathogens and has been implicated in numerous outbreaks. L. monocytogenes belonging to lineage I and II are generally associated with outbreaks. It causes three forms of the disease: gastroenteritis in healthy adults, systemic listeriosis in immunocompromised populations, and abortion and neonatal listeriosis in pregnant mothers and their fetuses. The intestinal phase of infection is a complex process, and the mechanism is not fully understood. Similarly, transmission to the brain or to the fetus is less clear. L. monocytogenes crossing of the intestinal epithelial barrier, invasion into mammalian cells, survival inside the phagosome, and escape into the cytoplasm, growth, and cell-to-cell spread is well understood. These events are orchestrated by numerous virulence factors such as Listeria adhesion protein (LAP), internalin A (InlA), InlB, listeriolysin O (LLO), actin polymerization protein (ActA), phospholipase C (PLC), metalloprotease (Mpl), hexose phosphate transport permease (Hpt), and lipoprotein ligase (LpL). Immune response to L. monocytogenes is largely dependent on the innate immunity involving neutrophils, dendritic cells, NK cells, and macrophages and cell-mediated immunity involving \( {\mathrm{CD}}_8^{+} \) T-cell subsets. Humoral immunity possibly has limited or no role in the immunity. Risk analysis study has identified several ready-to-eat foods to be of the high-risk category: hotdogs, sliced deli meats, soft cheeses especially those made with unpasteurized milk and pâté and meat spread, and smoked seafood. Immunocompromised or high-risk individuals, especially those who are pregnant, should avoid high-risk foods.


Listeria monocytogenes Listeriosis Intracellular pathogen Immunocompromised individuals Pregnancy Abortion Neonatal infection 

Further Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arun K. Bhunia
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular Food Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Food Science, Department of Comparative PathobiologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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