Listeria monocytogenes Cancer Vaccines: Bridging Innate and Adaptive Immunity

  • Zachary T. Morrow
  • Zachary M. Powers
  • John-Demian SauerEmail author
Microbial Anti-cancer Therapy and Prevention (PJF Rider, L Sweeny, and KG Kousoulas, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Microbial Anti-cancer Therapy and Prevention


Purpose of Review

Immunotherapy has emerged as a promising cancer treatment; however, success in only select clinical indications underscores the need for novel approaches. Recently Listeria monocytogenes–based vaccines have been developed to drive tumor-specific T cell responses. Here, we discuss recent preclinical studies using L. monocytogenes vaccines, innate immune pathways that influence T cell priming, and new vaccine strategies in clinical trials.

Recent Findings

Recent studies indicate that in addition to inducing antigen-specific T cell responses, L. monocytogenes vaccines remodel the TME. In addition, several innate immune pathways influence adaptive immune responses to L. monocytogenes and modulating these pathways holds promise to enhance antitumor T cell responses.


The interplay between innate and adaptive immune responses to L. monocytogenes is poorly understood. Understanding these interactions will facilitate the design of better anti-cancer vaccines and improved use of combination therapies.


Listeria monocytogenes Immunotherapy Cancer vaccines Innate immunity Adaptive immunity Tumor microenvironment 


Funding Information

This study was supported by grant R01 CA188034 from the National Institutes of Health (JDS). In addition, this material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (Z.T.M) under Grant No. DGE-1747503. Support was also provided by the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zachary T. Morrow
    • 1
  • Zachary M. Powers
    • 1
  • John-Demian Sauer
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Medical Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA

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