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How Virulent Food-Borne Bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes Induces Infected Immune Cells to Sabotage Their Own Defensive Response

Researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered how the virulent food-borne bacteria Listeria monocytogenes induces infected immune cells to sabotage their own defensive response. The studies offer insight into host-pathogen interactions and suggest potential therapeutic targets for food poisoning, tuberculosis and autoimmune diseases.

When patrolling immune-system cells encounter non-pathogenic microbes, they normally engulf and destroy them. However, certain pathogens such as Listeria can grow within immune cells, which then release alarm signals to other nearby cells. One of these alarms is IFN-αβ. IFN-αβ protects host cells from viral infection. However, IFN-αβ also increases growth of Listeria and certain other bacteria.

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