Dissociation of innate immune responses in microglia infected with Listeria monocytogenes

Elisabet Frande-Cabanes, Lorena Fernandez-Prieto, Ricardo Calderon-Gonzalez, Estela Rodriguez-Del Rio, Sonsoles Yañez-Diaz, Monica Lopez-Fanarraga, Carmen Alvarez-Dominguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Microglia, the innate immune cells of the brain, plays a central role in cerebral listeriosis. Here, we present evidence that microglia control Listeria infection differently than macrophages. Infection of primary microglial cultures and murine cell lines with Listeria resulted in a dual function of the two gene expression programmes involved in early and late immune responses in macrophages. Whereas the bacterial genehlyseems responsible for both transcriptional programmes in macrophages, Listeria induces in microglia only the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-regulated transcriptional programme. Listeria also represses in microglia the late immune response gathered in two clusters, microbial degradation, and interferon (IFN)-inducible genes. The bacterial gene actA was required in microglia to induce TNF-regulated responses and to repress the late response. Isolation of microglial phagosomes revealed a phagosomal environment unable to destroy Listeria. Microglial phagosomes were also defective in several signaling and trafficking components reported as relevant for Listeria innate immune responses. This transcriptional strategy in microglia induced high levels of TNF-a and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and low production of other neurotoxic compounds such as nitric oxide,hydrogen peroxide, and Type I IFNs. These cytokines and toxic microglial products are also released by primary microglia, and this cytokine and chemokine cocktail display a low potential to trigger neuronal apoptosis. This overall bacterial strategy strongly suggests that microglia limit Listeria inflammation pattern exclusively through TNF-mediated responses to preserve brain integrity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-246
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Listeriosis
  • Microglia
  • Neuronal cell death
  • Cytokines
  • Macrophages

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