Commensal microbes provide first line defense against Listeria monocytogenes infection Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Intestines
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Listeriosis


  • Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that causes septicemia, meningitis and chorioamnionitis and is associated with high mortality. Immunocompetent humans and animals, however, can tolerate high doses of L. monocytogenes without developing systemic disease. The intestinal microbiota provides colonization resistance against many orally acquired pathogens, and antibiotic-mediated depletion of the microbiota reduces host resistance to infection. Here we show that a diverse microbiota markedly reduces Listeria monocytogenes colonization of the gut lumen and prevents systemic dissemination. Antibiotic administration to mice before low dose oral inoculation increases L. monocytogenes growth in the intestine. In immunodeficient or chemotherapy-treated mice, the intestinal microbiota provides nonredundant defense against lethal, disseminated infection. We have assembled a consortium of commensal bacteria belonging to the Clostridiales order, which exerts in vitro antilisterial activity and confers in vivo resistance upon transfer into germ free mice. Thus, we demonstrate a defensive role of the gut microbiota against Listeria monocytogenes infection and identify intestinal commensal species that, by enhancing resistance against this pathogen, represent potential probiotics.

publication date

  • July 2017



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC5502438

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1084/jem.20170495

PubMed ID

  • 28588016

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1973

end page

  • 1989


  • 214


  • 7