Discovery of an immune escape mechanism promoting Listeria infection of the central nervous system

Some ‘hypervirulent’ strains of Listeria monocytogenes have a greater capacity to infect the central nervous system. Scientists have discovered a mechanism that enables cells infected with Listeria monocytogenes to escape immune responses. This mechanism provides infected cells circulating in the blood with a higher probability of adhering to and infecting cells of cerebral vessels, thereby enabling bacteria to cross the blood-brain barrier and infect the brain.