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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013, Article ID 917198, 13 pages
Review Article

Age-Dependent Differences in Systemic and Cell-Autonomous Immunity to L. monocytogenes

Division of Infectious & Immunological Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, CFRI Rm. A5-147, 938 West 28th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 4H4

Received 5 January 2013; Accepted 7 March 2013

Academic Editor: Philipp Henneke

Copyright © 2013 Ashley M. Sherrid and Tobias R. Kollmann. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Host defense against infection can broadly be categorized into systemic immunity and cell-autonomous immunity. Systemic immunity is crucial for all multicellular organisms, increasing in importance with increasing cellular complexity of the host. The systemic immune response to Listeria monocytogenes has been studied extensively in murine models; however, the clinical applicability of these findings to the human newborn remains incompletely understood. Furthermore, the ability to control infection at the level of an individual cell, known as “cell-autonomous immunity,” appears most relevant following infection with L. monocytogenes; as the main target, the monocyte is centrally important to innate as well as adaptive systemic immunity to listeriosis. We thus suggest that the overall increased risk to suffer and die from L. monocytogenes infection in the newborn period is a direct consequence of age-dependent differences in cell-autonomous immunity of the monocyte to L. monocytogenes. We here review what is known about age-dependent differences in systemic innate and adaptive as well as cell-autonomous immunity to infection with Listeria monocytogenes.