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Food-borne bacteria causes potentially fatal heart infection
Date:1/26/2011

ten had no heart infection at all, 90 percent of the mice infected with the cardiac strain had heart infections. The researchers obtained more strains of listeria, for a total of 10, and did the same experiment. They found that only one other strain also seemed to also target the heart.

"They infected the heart of more animals and were always infecting heart muscle and always in greater number," Freitag said. "Some strains seem to have this enhanced ability to target the heart for infection."

Freitag's team used molecular genetics and cardiac cell cultures to explore what was different about these two strains.

"These strains seem to have a better ability to invade cardiac cells," she said. The results suggest that these cardiac-associated strains display modified proteins on their surface that enable the bacteria to more easily enter cardiac cells, targeting the heart and leading to bacterial infection.

"Listeria is actually pretty common in foods," said Freitag. "And because it can grow at refrigerated temperatures, as foods are being produced with a longer and longer shelf life, listeria infection may become more common. In combination with an aging population that is more susceptible to serious infection, it's important that we learn all we can about these deadly infections."


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Contact: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
jgala@uic.edu
312-996-1583
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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