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Keywords:

  • Acquired immunity;
  • CD8 T-cell response;
  • infection;
  • Listeriosis;
  • pregnancy

Problem

Listeria monocytogenes (LM) preferentially colonizes the placenta and causes fetal loss and systemic disease during pregnancy. As systemic CD8+ T-cell memory is critical in controlling LM infection, we addressed the issue as to whether it is modulated during pregnancy.

Method of study

Pregnant mice were infected with LM and their immune response was quantified relative to the non-pregnant cohort using advanced immunological techniques.

Results

Pregnant mice exhibited progressive and massive placental LM infection leading to fetal resorptions. In contrast, they harbored significantly lower bacteria in spleen and liver relative to non-pregnant controls, and rapidly cleared systemic infection. Both pregnant and non-pregnant mice exhibited similar activation of systemic innate immunity. Moreover, LM infection in pregnant and non-pregnant hosts evoked strong antigen-specific cytolytic CD8+ T cells that produced IFN-γ. Consequently, LM infection initiated during pregnancy afforded long-term protective memory to secondary infection.

Conclusion

Maternal hosts generate a normal Listeria-specific adaptive immunity in particular CD8+ T-cell memory response suggesting that systemic listeriosis during pregnancy may be an immunopathology associated with placental infection.