Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Biological Sciences BS


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Janet Donaldson, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Jake Schaefer, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sabine Heinhorst, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences


Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by the gram-positive pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. When compared to other foodborne illnesses, listeriosis has a higher death rate due to an increased incidence of complications such as meningitis, hydrocephalus, and sepsis in immunocompromised populations. Elderly individuals experience a condition known as immunosenescence, which is a gradual compromisation of the immune system brought on by natural aging. Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a rare genetic disorder causing premature aging, which allows HGPS cell lines to be used as models to further research in the field of biogerontology. This study utilizes the F2365 strain of L. monocytogenes, which was responsible for the 1985 listeriosis epidemic that killed around 50 people, to compare the pathogenesis of L. monocytogenes in aged and unaged cells. Through a series of time course invasions utilizing B cell lines donated from an individual with HGPS (AG03344) and their healthy sibling (AG03343), data were generated to that concluded L. monocytogenes were able cross the cell membrane quicker and proliferate longer within the B cell lines of aged cells. Oxygen consumption rates of AG03343 and AG03344 were also measured, which concluded HGPS cell lines demonstrate a reduction in oxygen consumption and utilization in cellular respiration. This may be responsible for the observed increase in pathogenesis. Further work is needed to determine the impact of reduced oxygen availability and pathogenesis of L. monocytogenes.

Keywords: Progeria, Listeria monocytogenes, listeriosis, oxygen consumption, aging