The role of nitric oxide in Listeria encephalitis of ruminants and in rats intracisternally infected with Listeria monocytogenes

Remer, Katharina A.; Pfister, Hedi; Fatzer, Rosmarie; Leib, Stephen L.; Jungi, Thomas W. (2002). The role of nitric oxide in Listeria encephalitis of ruminants and in rats intracisternally infected with Listeria monocytogenes. Berliner und Münchener tierärztliche Wochenschrift, 115(7-8), pp. 259-266. Schlütersche

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Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive facultative intracellular bacteria which infects a wide range of hosts. In ruminants, infection with L. monocytogenes frequently causes encephalitis, which is usually fatal in sheep and goat, while cattle often recover with antibiotic therapy. Since the role of NO in the control of Listeria is controversial, we have studied the expression of iNOS in the brains of cattle, sheep and goats which had succumbed to listeria encephalitis. iNOS was demonstrated in decreasing intensity in the M phi of microabscesses from cattle, sheep and goat. iNOS expression was accompanied by NT in the microabscesses of cattle, but was only present to a low degree in sheep and was absent in goats. This is indirect evidence for differences in the ability to produce NO in the three species. Presence of iNOS and NT were inversely correlated with the numbers of bacteria. While microabscesses of goats contained high amounts of L. monocytogenes they occurred only rarely in cattle. To corroborate our hypothesis that NO is involved in the control of listeria encephalitis a new animal model was developed. Eleven day old infant rats were infected intracisternally with a low dose of L. monocytogenes. This resulted in a transient meningoencephalitis with moderate clinical signs and low mortality. Listeria proliferated strongly in the inflammatory lesions during the first days of infection, reached a peak at day 4 and were eliminated until day 7. The presence of bacteria was closely accompanied by high numbers of iNOS-expressing M phi and the formation of NT. Administration of the iNOS inhibitor L-NIL or the radical scavenger PBN resulted in rapid death of the treated animals. However, the increase in bacterial numbers was one order of magnitude higher for animals treated with PBN compared with L-NIL administration. This shows that NO plays an important role in the control of a brain infection with Listeria, but suggests that reactive oxidants other than NO are also involved. In conclusion, our findings point to a possible involvement of the differences in the ability to express iNOS and subsequent NO production in the different clinical outcome of listeria encephalitis in cattle and small ruminants.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases

UniBE Contributor:

Leib, Stephen


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Stephen Leib

Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2014 10:05

Last Modified:

01 Sep 2014 10:05

PubMed ID:



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