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1.  Role of childhood infection in the sequelae of H. pylori disease 
Gut Microbes  2013;4(6):426-438.
The persistence of Helicobacter pylori infection plays a fundamental role in the development of H. pylori-associated complications. Since the majority of infected persons acquire the bacteria during early childhood, an examination of the immunobiology of H. pylori infection in children compared with that of adults may help identify host factors that contribute to persistent infection. Therefore, we begin our review of the role of persistence in H. pylori disease with an assessment of the clinical features of H. pylori infection in children. We next review the bacterial factors that promote colonization and evasion of host defense mechanisms. We then focus our attention on the early host immunological factors that promote persistence of the infection and its complications in humans and mouse models. We also highlight topics in which further research is needed. An examination of how immunological factors cause divergent manifestations of H. pylori infection in children compared with adults may provide new insight for therapeutic modification or prevention of persistent H. pylori infection and its complications.
PMCID: PMC3928156  PMID: 24275060
Helicobacter pylori; cancer; infection; children
2.  Longitudinal analysis of serological responses of adults to Helicobacter pylori antigens 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2010;202(6):916-923.
Since Helicobacter pylori persist for decades in the human stomach, the aim of this study was to examine the long-term course in H. pylori-specific serum IgG responses with respect to subclass and antigenic target. We studied paired serum samples obtained in 1973 and in 1994 in Vammala, Finland from 64 healthy H. pylori-positive adults and from other healthy controls. H. pylori serum IgA, IgG, and IgG subclass responses were determined by antigen-specific ELISAs. H. pylori-specific IgG1 and IgG4 subtype responses from 47 subjects were similar in 1973 and 1994, but not when compared to unrelated persons. H. pylori-specific IgG1/IgG4 ratios amongst the participants varied > 1000-fold; however, 89.4% had an IgG1/IgG4 ratio >1.0, consistent with a predominant IgG1 (Th1) response. Furthermore, ratios in individual hosts were stable over the 21-year period (r=0.56, p< 0.001). The immune response to heat shock protein HspA was unchanged in 49 (77%) of the 64 subjects tested; of the 15 who changed serostatus, all seroconverted and were significantly younger than those who did not change status. These findings indicate that H. pylori-specific antibody responses are host-specific with IgG1/IgG4 ratios stable over 21 years, IgG1 responses predominating, and HspA seroconversion with aging.
PMCID: PMC2924458  PMID: 20698790
3.  Factors associated with H pylori epidemiology in symptomatic children in Buenos Aires, Argentina 
AIM: To determine prevalence of H pylori infection in symptomatic children in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and to investigate factors associated with H pylori positivity.
METHODS: A total of 395 children with upper gastrointestinal symptoms referred to the Gastroente-rology Unit of the Children Hospital “Sor Maria Ludovica” were evaluated for the presence of H pylori by the 13C-Urea Breath Test (13C-UBT). A questionnaire was applied to the recruited population.
RESULTS: Prevalence of H pylori infection was 40.0% in this population (mean age 9.97 ± 3.1 years). The factors associated with H pylori positivity were number of siblings (P < 0.001), presence of pet cats (P = 0.03) and birds (P = 0.04) in the household, and antecedents of gastritis among family members (P = 0.01). After multivariate analysis, number of siblings [Odds ratio (OR) = 1.39; 95% CI, 1.20-1.61] and contact with pet cats (OR = 1.76; 95% CI, 1.00-3.09) remained as variables associated with H pylori infection.
CONCLUSION: The prevalence of H pylori infection in children with upper gastrointestinal symptoms in Argentina was similar to that reported in developed countries. Children from families with a higher crowding index and presence of pet cats have a higher risk of being colonized with H pylori.
PMCID: PMC4088210  PMID: 16981273
H pylori; Children; Epidemiology; Urea breath test; Prevalence
4.  Quantitation and Composition of Cutaneous Microbiota in Diabetic and Nondiabetic Men 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;207(7):1105-1114.
Background. Diabetic foot infections are a leading cause of lower extremity amputations. Our study examines the microbiota of diabetic skin prior to ulcer development or infection.
Methods. In a case-control study, outpatient males were recruited at a veterans hospital. Subjects were swabbed at 4 cutaneous sites, 1 on the forearm and 3 on the foot. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) with primers and probes specific for bacteria, Staphylococcus species, Staphylococcus aureus, and fungi were performed on all samples. High-throughput 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing was performed on samples from the forearm and the plantar aspect of the foot.
Results. qPCR analysis of swab specimens from 30 diabetic subjects and 30 control subjects showed no differences in total numbers of bacteria or fungi at any sampled site. Increased log10 concentrations of Staphylococcus aureus, quantified by the number of nuc gene copies, were present in diabetic men on the plantar aspect of the foot. High-throughput 16S rRNA sequencing found that, on the foot, the microbiota in controls (n = 24) was dominated by Staphylococcus species, whereas the microbiota in diabetics (n = 23) was more diverse at the genus level. The forearm microbiota had similar diversity in diabetic and control groups.
Conclusions. The feet of diabetic men had decreased populations of Staphylococcus species, increased populations of S. aureus, and increased bacterial diversity, compared with the feet of controls. These ecologic changes may affect the risk for wound infections.
PMCID: PMC3583274  PMID: 23300163
microbiota; microbiome; diabetic foot; cutaneous; Staphylococcus; Staphylococcus aureus
5.  Comparative Genome Analysis of Campylobacter fetus Subspecies Revealed Horizontally Acquired Genetic Elements Important for Virulence and Niche Specificity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85491.
Campylobacter fetus are important animal and human pathogens and the two major subspecies differ strikingly in pathogenicity. C. fetus subsp. venerealis is highly niche-adapted, mainly infecting the genital tract of cattle. C. fetus subsp. fetus has a wider host-range, colonizing the genital- and intestinal-tract of animals and humans. We report the complete genomic sequence of C. fetus subsp. venerealis 84-112 and comparisons to the genome of C. fetus subsp. fetus 82-40. Functional analysis of genes predicted to be involved in C. fetus virulence was performed. The two subspecies are highly syntenic with 92% sequence identity but C. fetus subsp. venerealis has a larger genome and an extra-chromosomal element. Aside from apparent gene transfer agents and hypothetical proteins, the unique genes in both subspecies comprise two known functional groups: lipopolysaccharide production, and type IV secretion machineries. Analyses of lipopolysaccharide-biosynthesis genes in C. fetus isolates showed linkage to particular pathotypes, and mutational inactivation demonstrated their roles in regulating virulence and host range. The comparative analysis presented here broadens knowledge of the genomic basis of C. fetus pathogenesis and host specificity. It further highlights the importance of surface-exposed structures to C. fetus pathogenicity and demonstrates how evolutionary forces optimize the fitness and host-adaptation of these pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3887049  PMID: 24416416
6.  Community differentiation of the cutaneous microbiota in psoriasis 
Microbiome  2013;1:31.
Psoriasis is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the skin. We sought to characterize and compare the cutaneous microbiota of psoriatic lesions (lesion group), unaffected contralateral skin from psoriatic patients (unaffected group), and similar skin loci in matched healthy controls (control group) in order to discern patterns that govern skin colonization and their relationship to clinical diagnosis.
Using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we assayed the cutaneous bacterial communities of 51 matched triplets and characterized these samples using community data analysis techniques. Intragroup Unifrac β diversity revealed increasing diversity from control to unaffected to lesion specimens. Likewise, principal coordinates analysis (PCoA) revealed separation of the lesion samples from unaffected and control along the first axis, suggesting that psoriasis is a major contributor to the observed diversity. The taxonomic richness and evenness decreased in both lesion and unaffected communities compared to control. These differences are explained by the combined increased abundance of the four major skin-associated genera (Corynebacterium, Propionibacterium, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus), which present a potentially useful predictor for clinical skin type. Psoriasis samples also showed significant univariate decreases in relative abundances and strong classification performance of Cupriavidus, Flavisolibacter, Methylobacterium, and Schlegelella genera versus controls. The cutaneous microbiota separated into two distinct clusters, which we call cutaneotypes: (1) Proteobacteria-associated microbiota, and (2) Firmicutes-associated and Actinobacteria-associated microbiota. Cutaneotype 2 is enriched in lesion specimens compared to control (odds ratio 3.52 (95% CI 1.44 to 8.98), P <0.01).
Our results indicate that psoriasis induces physiological changes both at the lesion site and at the systemic level, which select for specific differential microbiota among the assayed clinical skin types. These differences in microbial community structure in psoriasis patients are potentially of pathophysiologic and diagnostic significance.
PMCID: PMC4177411  PMID: 24451201
Cutaneous microbiota; Psoriasis markers; Microbiome analysis; Cutaneotypes
7.  Microbiomic Signatures of Psoriasis: Feasibility and Methodology Comparison 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2620.
Psoriasis is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the skin. We sought to use bacterial community abundance data to assess the feasibility of developing multivariate molecular signatures for differentiation of cutaneous psoriatic lesions, clinically unaffected contralateral skin from psoriatic patients, and similar cutaneous loci in matched healthy control subjects. Using 16S rRNA high-throughput DNA sequencing, we assayed the cutaneous microbiome for 51 such matched specimen triplets including subjects of both genders, different age groups, ethnicities and multiple body sites. None of the subjects had recently received relevant treatments or antibiotics. We found that molecular signatures for the diagnosis of psoriasis result in significant accuracy ranging from 0.75 to 0.89 AUC, depending on the classification task. We also found a significant effect of DNA sequencing and downstream analysis protocols on the accuracy of molecular signatures. Our results demonstrate that it is feasible to develop accurate molecular signatures for the diagnosis of psoriasis from microbiomic data.
PMCID: PMC3965359  PMID: 24018484
8.  The Effect of Laparoscopic Gastric Banding Surgery on Plasma Levels of Appetite-Control, Insulinotropic, and Digestive Hormones 
Obesity surgery  2008;18(9):1089-1096.
We hypothesized that laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) reduces weight and modulates ghrelin production, but largely spares gastrointestinal endocrine function. To examine this hypothesis, we determined plasma concentrations of appetite-control, insulinotropic, and digestive hormones in relation to LAGB.
Twenty-four patients undergoing LAGB were prospectively enrolled. Body mass index (BMI) was measured and blood samples obtained at baseline and 6 and 12 months post-surgery. Plasma concentrations of leptin, acylated and total ghrelin, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP), active glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), gastrin, and pepsinogens I and II were measured using enzyme-linked immunoassays.
Median percent excess weight loss (%EWL) over 12 months was 45.7% with median BMI decreasing from 43.2 at baseline to 33.8 at 12 months post-surgery (p<0.001). Median leptin levels decreased from 19.7 ng/ml at baseline to 6.9 ng/ml at 12 months post-surgery (p<0.001). In contrast, plasma levels of acylated and total ghrelin, PP, insulin, GIP, GLP-1, gastrin, and pepsinogen I did not change in relation to surgery (p>0.05). Pepsinogen II levels were significantly lower 6 months after LAGB but returned to baseline levels by 12 months.
LAGB yielded substantial %EWL and a proportional decrease in plasma leptin. Our results support the hypothesis that LAGB works in part by suppressing the rise in ghrelin that normally accompanies weight loss. Unchanged concentrations of insulinotropic and digestive hormones suggest that gastrointestinal endocrine function is largely maintained in the long term.
PMCID: PMC3743550  PMID: 18408980
Obesity; Weight loss; Bariatric surgery; Adjustable gastric banding; Ghrelin; Leptin; GIP; GLP-1
Helicobacter  2012;17(3):232-237.
The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori in Western populations has steadily decreased. This has been suggested as one of the factors involved in the recent increase of asthma and allergy. Some studies have reported a negative association between H.pylori and asthma and allergy, but data are inconsistent and there are a few studies in children.
We investigated whether the prevalence of H.pylori was associated with asthma symptoms, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis in childhood.
We determined IgG anti-H.pylori and CagA antibodies in serum of Dutch children, who took part in the PIAMA birth cohort study. Serum was collected from 545 children, aged 7–9 yrs (Dutch ethnicity 91.5%). Symptoms of asthma and atopy were assessed by yearly questionnaires. Chi-square tests and logistic regression were used.
We found 9% H.pylori and 0.9% CagA seropositivity. Twelve (5.9%) children with reported wheezing ever were H.pylori positive, compared to 37 (10.9%) of the non-wheezers (p=0.05). No significant differences in H.pylori prevalence were found between children with or without allergic rhinitis (8.5% vs. 9.5%), atopic dermatitis (8.7% vs. 9.2%), and physician-diagnosed asthma (7.1% vs. 9.4%). Multivariate analysis showed no significant associations between H.pylori seropositivity and wheezing (OR 0.52; 95% CI 0.25–1.06), allergic rhinitis (OR 0.96; 95% CI 0.51–1.81), atopic dermatitis (OR 1.05; 95% CI 0.56–1.98) or physician-diagnosed asthma (OR 0.87; 95% CI 0.37–2.08).
We found a borderline significantly lower H.pylori seropositivity in children with wheezing compared to non-wheezers, but no association between H.pylori serum-antibody status and allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, or asthma.
PMCID: PMC3335763  PMID: 22515362
Helicobacter pylori; children; asthma; wheezing; atopy; disappearing microbiota hypothesis
10.  Genotypic and phenotypic variation of Lewis antigen expression in geographically diverse Helicobacter pylori isolates 
Helicobacter  2011;16(6):475-481.
Helicobacter pylori is a persistent colonizer of the human gastric mucosa, which can lead to the development peptic ulcer disease and gastric adenocarcinomas. However, H. pylori can asymptomatically colonize a host for years. One factor that has been hypothesized to contribute to such persistence is the production of Lewis (Le) antigens in the lipopolysaccharide layer of the bacterial outer membrane as a form of molecular mimicry, since humans also express these antigens on their gastric mucosa. Humans and H. pylori both are polymorphic for Le expression, which is driven in H. pylori by variation at the Le synthesis loci. In this report we sought to characterize Le genotypic and phenotypic variation in geographically diverse H. pylori isolates.
Materials and Methods
From patients undergoing endoscopy in 29 countries, we determined Le phenotypes of 78 H. pylori strains, and performed genotyping of the galT and β-(1,3)galT loci in 113 H. pylori strains.
Le antigen phenotyping revealed a significant (p <0.0001) association between type 1 (Lea and Leb) expression and strains of East-Asian origin. Genotyping revealed a significant correlation between strain origin and the size of the promoter region upstream of the Le synthesis gene, galT (p <0.0001).
These results indicate that the heterogeneity of human Le phenotypes are reflected in their H. pylori colonizing strains, and suggest new loci that can be studied to assess variation of Le expression.
PMCID: PMC3228314  PMID: 22059399
11.  Novel gastric helicobacters and oral campylobacters are present in captive and wild cetaceans 
Veterinary microbiology  2011;152(1-2):138-145.
The mammalian gastric and oral mucosa may be colonized by mixed Helicobacter and Campylobacter species, respectively, in individual animals. To better characterize the presence and distribution of Helicobacter and Campylobacter among marine mammals, we used PCR and 16S rDNA sequence analysis to examine gastric and oral samples from ten dolphins (Tursiops gephyreus), one killer whale (Orcinus orca), one false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens), and three wild La Plata river dolphins (Pontoporia blainvillei). Helicobacter spp. DNA was widely distributed in gastric and oral samples from both captive and wild cetaceans. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated two Helicobacter sequence clusters, one closely related to H. cetorum, a species isolated from dolphins and whales in North America. The second related cluster was to sequences obtained from dolphins in Australia and to gastric non-Helicobacter pylori helicobacters, and may represent a novel taxonomic group. Dental plaque sequences from four dolphins formed a third cluster within the Campylobacter genus that likely represents a novel species isolated from marine mammals. Identification of identical Helicobacter spp. DNA sequences from dental plaque, saliva and gastric fluids from the same hosts, suggests that the oral cavity may be involved in transmission. These results demonstrate that Helicobacter and Campylobacter species are commonly distributed in marine mammals, and identify taxonomic clusters that may represent novel species.
PMCID: PMC3142288  PMID: 21592686
Helicobacter; Campylobacter; marine mammals; cetaceans; gastritis
12.  Serologic host response to Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni in socially housed Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) 
Gut Pathogens  2012;4:9.
Helicobacter pylori are successful colonizers of the human gastric mucosa. Colonization increases the risk of peptic ulcer disease and adenocarcinoma. However, potential benefits of H. pylori colonization include protection against early-onset asthma and against gastrointestinal infections. Campylobacter jejuni are a leading cause of bacterial diarrhea and complications include Guillain-Barré syndrome. Here, we describe the development of reliable serological assays to detect antibodies against those two bacteria in Rhesus macaques and investigated their distribution within a social group of monkeys.
Two cohorts of monkeys were analyzed. The first cohort consisted of 30 monkeys and was used to establish an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for H. pylori antibodies detection. To evaluate colonization of those macaques, stomach biopsies were collected and analyzed for the presence of H. pylori by histology and culture. C. jejuni ELISAs were established using human serum with known C. jejuni antibody status. Next, plasma samples of the 89 macaques (Cohort 2) were assayed for antibodies and then statistically analyzed.
An H. pylori IgG ELISA, which was 100% specific and 93% sensitive, was established. In contrast, the IgA ELISA was only 82% specific and 61% sensitive. The CagA IgG assay was 100% sensitive and 61% of the macaques were positive. In cohort 2, 62% macaques were H. pylori sero-positive and 52% were CagA positive. The prevalence of H. pylori IgG and CagA IgG increased with monkey age as described for humans. Of the 89 macaques 52% showed IgG against C. jejuni but in contrast to H. pylori, the sero-prevalence was not associated with increasing age. However, there was a drop in the IgG (but not in IgA) mean values between infant and juvenile macaques, similar to trends described in humans.
Rhesus macaques have widespread exposure to H. pylori and C. jejuni, reflecting their social conditions and implying that Rhesus macaques might provide a model to study effects of these two important human mucosal bacteria on a population.
PMCID: PMC3499398  PMID: 22920270
Helicobacter pylori; Campylobacter jejuni; Rhesus macaques; Antibodies; Sero-prevalence; CagA
13.  Serum pepsinogens and Helicobacter pylori in relation to the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the ATBC Study 
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) can induce gastric atrophy in humans, which in turn increases gastric cancer risk. Whether H. pylori and gastric atrophy also affect the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), however, remains unresolved.
We performed a nested case-control study within the prospective ATBC Study to assess these relationships. The ATBC Study is composed of 29,133 Finnish male smokers, aged 50–69, who were recruited during 1985–1988. Using baseline sera, we assessed H. pylori status (via IgG antibodies against whole-cell and CagA antigens) and gastric atrophy status (via the biomarkers pepsinogen I (PGI) and II (PGII)) in 79 ESCC cases and 94 controls. Logistic regression with adjustment for age, date of blood draw, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol, body mass index, and fruit and vegetable intake was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI).
Gastric atrophy (PGI:PGII <4) was associated with ESCC (OR=4.58, 95%CI:2.00–10.48). There was no evidence for an association between H. pylori and ESCC (OR=0.94, 95%CI:0.40–2.24).
These results could be explained by misclassification of H. pylori status due to serologic amnesia, ESCC risk being dependent upon the functional consequences or interactions of H. pylori, rather than the infection per se, gastric atrophy having a different histogenesis in ESCC without being primarily dependent upon H. pylori acquisition, or a lack of statistical power to detect an effect.
Validation of these results may warrant mechanistic studies to determine the route of association between gastric atrophy and ESCC.
PMCID: PMC2919643  PMID: 20647397
Atrophy; Esophageal Neoplasms; Helicobacter pylori; Nested Case-Control Studies; Pepsinogens; Prospective Studies
14.  The effect of H. pylori eradication on meal-associated changes in plasma ghrelin and leptin 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:37.
Appetite and energy expenditure are regulated in part by ghrelin and leptin produced in the gastric mucosa, which may be modified by H. pylori colonization. We prospectively evaluated the effect of H. pylori eradication on meal-associated changes in serum ghrelin and leptin levels, and body weight.
Veterans referred for upper GI endoscopy were evaluated at baseline and ≥8 weeks after endoscopy, and H. pylori status and body weight were ascertained. During the first visit in all subjects, and during subsequent visits in the initially H. pylori-positive subjects and controls, blood was collected after an overnight fast and 1 h after a standard high protein meal, and levels of eight hormones determined.
Of 92 enrolled subjects, 38 were H. pylori-negative, 44 H. pylori-positive, and 10 were indeterminate. Among 23 H. pylori-positive subjects who completed evaluation after treatment, 21 were eradicated, and 2 failed eradication. After a median of seven months following eradication, six hormones related to energy homeostasis showed no significant differences, but post-prandial acylated ghrelin levels were nearly six-fold higher than pre-eradication (p = 0.005), and median integrated leptin levels also increased (20%) significantly (p < 0.001). BMI significantly increased (5 ± 2%; p = 0.008) over 18 months in the initially H. pylori-positive individuals, but was not significantly changed in those who were H. pylori-negative or indeterminant at baseline.
Circulating meal-associated leptin and ghrelin levels and BMI changed significantly after H. pylori eradication, providing direct evidence that H. pylori colonization is involved in ghrelin and leptin regulation, with consequent effects on body morphometry.
PMCID: PMC3089783  PMID: 21489301
15.  Quantitation of Major Human Cutaneous Bacterial and Fungal Populations▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(10):3575-3581.
Because the human skin microbiota may play roles in the causation or modification of skin diseases, we sought to provide initial quantitative analysis from different cutaneous locations. We developed quantitative PCRs to enumerate the total bacterial and fungal populations, as well as the most common bacterial and fungal genera present in six locales, in eight healthy subjects. We used a set of primers and TaqMan MGB probes based on the bacterial 16S rRNA and fungal internally transcribed spacer region, as well as bacterial genus-specific probes for Propionibacterium, Corynebacterium, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus and a fungal genus-specific probe for Malassezia. The extent of human DNA contamination of the specimen was determined by quantitating the human housekeeping GAPDH gene. The highest level of 16S rRNA copies of bacteria was present in the axilla (4.44 ± 0.18 log10 copies/μl [mean ± standard error of the mean]), with normalization based on GAPDH levels, but the other five locations were similar to one another (range, 2.48 to 2.89 log10 copies/μl). There was strong symmetry between the left and right sides. The four bacterial genera accounted for 31% to 59% of total bacteria, with the highest percent composition in the axilla and the lowest in the forearm. Streptococcus was the most common genus present on the forehead and behind the ear. Corynebacterium spp. were predominant in the axilla. Fungal levels were 1 to 2 log10 lower than for bacteria, with Malassezia spp. accounting for the majority of fungal gene copies. These results provide the first quantitation of the site and host specificities of major bacterial and fungal populations in human skin and present simple methods for their assessment in studies of disease.
PMCID: PMC2953113  PMID: 20702672
16.  Repeat-Associated Plasticity in the Helicobacter pylori RD Gene Family▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(22):6900-6910.
The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is remarkable for its ability to persist in the human stomach for decades without provoking sterilizing immunity. Since repetitive DNA can facilitate adaptive genomic flexibility via increased recombination, insertion, and deletion, we searched the genomes of two H. pylori strains for nucleotide repeats. We discovered a family of genes with extensive repetitive DNA that we have termed the H. pylori RD gene family. Each gene of this family is composed of a conserved 3′ region, a variable mid-region encoding 7 and 11 amino acid repeats, and a 5′ region containing one of two possible alleles. Analysis of five complete genome sequences and PCR genotyping of 42 H. pylori strains revealed extensive variation between strains in the number, location, and arrangement of RD genes. Furthermore, examination of multiple strains isolated from a single subject's stomach revealed intrahost variation in repeat number and composition. Despite prior evidence that the protein products of this gene family are expressed at the bacterial cell surface, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoblot studies revealed no consistent seroreactivity to a recombinant RD protein by H. pylori-positive hosts. The pattern of repeats uncovered in the RD gene family appears to reflect slipped-strand mispairing or domain duplication, allowing for redundancy and subsequent diversity in genotype and phenotype. This novel family of hypervariable genes with conserved, repetitive, and allelic domains may represent an important locus for understanding H. pylori persistence in its natural host.
PMCID: PMC2772487  PMID: 19749042
17.  Effect of Helicobacter pylori eradication on gastric carcinogenesis 
Chronic gastritis induced by Helicobacter pylori is the strongest known risk factor for gastric adenocarcinoma, yet the effects of bacterial eradication on carcinogenesis remain unclear. Animal models provide important insights into factors that are involved in gastric carcinogenesis, and we previously utilized such a model to demonstrate that an in vivo adapted H. pylori strain, 7.13, rapidly and reproducibly induces inflammation-mediated gastric carcinoma. In the current study, we used this bacterial strain as a prototype to define the role of targeted antimicrobial therapy in gastric carcinogenesis. Mongolian gerbils were infected with H. pylori for 4 or 8 weeks, treated with antimicrobial agents or vehicle, and then euthanized at 8 weeks after the completion of therapy. All infected gerbils developed gastritis; however, inflammation was significantly attenuated in animals receiving antimicrobial therapy. Gastric dysplasia or cancer developed in > 60% of the gerbils that remained persistently colonized with H. pylori, but in none of the animals treated with antibiotics following 4 weeks of infection. Infection with H. pylori for 8 weeks prior to therapy resulted in an attenuation, but not complete prevention, of pre-malignant and malignant lesions. Similarly, antibiotic therapy initiated at 4, but not 8, weeks after H. pylori challenge significantly reduced expression of the Th1 pro-inflammatory cytokine interferon-γ within colonized gastric mucosa. These results indicate that treatment of H. pylori in this model decreases the incidence and severity of lesions with carcinogenic potential. The effectiveness of eradication is dependent upon the timing of intervention, providing insights into mechanisms that may regulate the development of malignancies arising within the context of inflammatory states.
PMCID: PMC2833422  PMID: 18180700
inflammation; cytokine; dysplasia; gastric cancer; antibiotics
18.  Asthma Is Inversely Associated with Helicobacter pylori Status in an Urban Population 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4060.
Microbial exposures have been suggested to confer protection from allergic disorders and reduced exposures to gastrointestinal microbiota have been proposed as an explanation for the increase in asthma prevalence. Since the general prevalence of Helicobacter pylori has been decreasing, we hypothesized that H. pylori serostatus would be inversely related to the presence of asthma.
Adults were recruited to participate in the New York University (NYU)/Bellevue Asthma Registry in New York City. Adult asthma cases (N = 318) and controls (N = 208) were identified and serum IgG antibodies to H. pylori whole cell antigens or the immunodominant CagA antigen were measured.
As expected, the asthma cases and controls differed with respect to atopy and lung function. Seropositivity to H. pylori or CagA antigen was present in 47.1% of the total case and control study population. Asthma was inversely associated with CagA seropositivity (OR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.36–0.89). Median age of onset of asthma (doctor's diagnosis) was older (21 years) among individuals with CagA+ strains than among H. pylori- individuals (11 years) (p = 0.006).
These data are consistent with the hypothesis that colonization with CagA+ H. pylori strains is inversely associated with asthma and is associated with an older age of asthma onset in an urban population. The data suggest H. pylori as a marker for protection.
Trial Registration NCT00212537
PMCID: PMC2603593  PMID: 19112508
19.  Serological Assays for Identification of Human Gastric Colonization by Helicobacter pylori Strains Expressing VacA m1 or m2 ▿†  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2007;14(4):442-450.
The Helicobacter pylori vacA gene encodes a secreted protein (VacA) that alters the function of gastric epithelial cells and T lymphocytes. H. pylori strains containing particular vacA alleles are associated with differential risk of disease. Because the VacA midregion may exist as one of two major types, m1 or m2, serologic responses may potentially be used to differentiate between patients colonized with vacA m1- or vacA m2-positive H. pylori strains. In this study, we examined the utility of specific antigens from the m regions of VacA as allele-specific diagnostic antigens. We report that serological responses to P44M1, an H. pylori m1-specific antigen, are observed predominantly in patients colonized with m1-positive strains, whereas responses to VacA m2 antigens, P48M2 and P55M2, are observed in patients colonized with either m1- or m2-positive strains. In an Asian-American population, serologic responses to VacA m region-specific antigens were not able to predict the risk of development of gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC1865612  PMID: 17267587
20.  Assessment of the toll-like receptor 4 Asp299Gly, Thr399Ile and interleukin-8 -251 polymorphisms in the risk for the development of distal gastric cancer 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:70.
The intensity of the inflammation induced by Helicobacter pylori colonization is associated with the development of distal gastric cancer (GC). The host response to H. pylori has been related to genetic polymorphisms that influence both innate and adaptive immune responses.
Our aim was to investigate whether the presence of the TLR4 Asp299Gly, TLR4 Thr399Ile and IL-8-251 A/T polymorphisms had any influence in the development of distal GC in a Mexican population.
We studied 337 patients that were divided in two groups: 78 patients with histologically confirmed distal GC and 259 non-cancer controls. The presence of H. pylori in the control population was defined by positive results of at least two of four diagnostic tests: serology, histology, rapid urease test and culture. Human DNA was purified and genotyped for TLR4 Asp299Gly polymorphism by pyrosequencing, for TLR4 Thr399Ile by PCR-RFLP and for IL8-251 by the amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS)-PCR.
The non-cancer control group was found to be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium at the polymorphic loci studied (chi-square H-W = 0.58 for IL8-251, 0.42 for TLR4 Asp299Gly and 0.17 for TLR4 Thr399Ile). The frequencies of mutated alleles (homozygous plus heterozygous) were compared between cases and controls. We found no significant difference for TLR4- Asp299Gly [the 7.7% of distal GC patients and 7.7 % non-cancer controls (p = 0.82)] and for TLR4 Thr399Ile [the 1.3% of GC patients and the 5% of the control population (p = 0.2)]. In contrast, for IL-8-251 A/T, 80.77% of the GC patients and 66.4% in the control group age and gender matched had at least one copy of mutated allele (OR = 2.12, 95% CI = 1.1–4.2) (p = 0.023).
This study showed that the IL8-251*A allele could be related to the development of distal gastric cancer in this Mexican population.
PMCID: PMC1868033  PMID: 17462092
22.  Early-Life Family Structure and Microbially Induced Cancer Risk 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(1):e7.
Cancer may follow exposure to an environmental agent after many decades. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori, known to be acquired early in life, increases risk for gastric adenocarcinoma, but other factors are also important. In this study, we considered whether early-life family structure affects the risk of later developing gastric cancer among H. pylori+ men.
Methods and Findings
We examined a long-term cohort of Japanese-American men followed for 28 y, and performed a nested case-control study among those carrying H. pylori or the subset carrying the most virulent cagA+ H. pylori strains to address whether family structure predicted cancer development. We found that among the men who were H. pylori+ and/or cagA+ (it is possible to be cagA+ and H. pylori− if the H. pylori test is falsely negative), belonging to a large sibship or higher birth order was associated with a significantly increased risk of developing gastric adenocarcinoma late in life. For those with cagA+ strains, the risk of developing gastric cancer was more than twice as high (odds ratio 2.2; 95% confidence interval 1.2–4.0) among those in a sibship of seven or more individuals than in a sibship of between one and three persons.
These results provide evidence that early-life social environment plays a significant role in risk of microbially induced malignancies expressing five to eight decades later, and these findings lead to new models to explain these interactions.
This study suggests that early-life social environment has a significant role in risk of microbially induced malignancies such as gastric adenocarcinoma occuring five to eight decades later.
Editors' Summary
Although the theory that certain cancers might be caused by infectious agents (such as bacteria and viruses) has been around for some time, concrete evidence linking specific cancers and infections is only recently beginning to emerge. There is now very good evidence that stomach cancer, once one of the frequent types worldwide but now less common, is strongly associated with a particular infection of the stomach lining. This specific bacterium colonizing the stomach, Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori), often infects people early in childhood through close contact with other people, and tends to stay in the body throughout life. However, most people do not suffer any symptoms as a result of being colonized with H. pylori. Researchers are interested in the relationship between stomach cancer and aspects of someone's upbringing, for example whether an individual has a large number of sisters and brothers and whether they are the youngest or oldest in a large group of siblings. One reason for being interested in this topic is that if H. pylori is mainly spread from one child to another in the home, we might expect children from large sibling groups, and the youngest children in a group, to be at greater risk of being infected, and then more likely to get stomach cancer later in life. Furthermore—and this was the primary reason for the study—the researchers wished to determine whether, among H. pylori+ people, the structure of the family affects the risk of developing stomach cancer much later in life. With all study participants being H. pylori+, the essential comparison was between people of high and low birth order.
Why Was This Study Done?
This group of researchers had already done a previous study that had shown that people who carry H. pylori in their stomachs are more likely to get stomach cancer, and also that younger children in a sibling group are more likely to get stomach cancer. In the period following that study, the examined population has become older and more of the people concerned have developed stomach cancer. This meant that the researchers could go back and extend their previous work to see, more reliably, whether stomach cancer was linked to family structure. It also meant that the researchers could look at the effects of each factor not only in isolation, but also the combined effect of all the different factors. The researchers also stratified for the most virulent strains (those that were cagA+).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In this study, the researchers started out with a pool of 7,429 Japanese-American men living in Hawaii, USA, who had donated blood samples between 1967 and 1975. Of these men, 261 eventually developed stomach cancer. Each of the 261 men was then matched with a similarly aged man from the original pool of 7,429 men who did not have stomach cancer. The researchers then went back to the original blood samples taken many years before and tested the samples to see if the men were infected with H. pylori at the time the sample was taken and, if so, whether a particular strain of the bacterium, cagA, was present. The researchers then looked at whether the risk of getting stomach cancer was associated with the number of siblings a man had and whether he was older or younger than the other siblings.
Similar to the prior study, they found that men who had stomach cancer were three times more likely to carry H. pylori compared to men who did not develop stomach cancer. In men who had H. pylori, those with large numbers of siblings were more likely to get stomach cancer, and this was especially true for men who had the cagA strain of H. pylori. In the whole group of men with cancer, the order of birth (whether a man was older or younger in his sibling group) did not seem to be particularly linked to development of stomach cancer. However, in men who had the cagA strain of H. pylori, those from the largest sibships were at highest risk of developing gastric cancer; in this group, one particular type of cancer (the most common type—intestinal-type gastric cancer) was also associated with later birth order.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers initially thought that men with H. pylori would be at a higher risk of getting stomach cancer if they had a large number of sisters and brothers, and especially if they were a younger sibling in a large group. This idea was supported by their data. These findings support the idea that people often get H. pylori from their older sisters and brothers, but there is not conclusive proof of this. There might be some other factor that explains the association between large family size and stomach cancer, for example that people from large families might be poorer and more at risk from stomach cancer for some other reason. Currently, most doctors do not recommend routinely testing people without any symptoms to see if they have H. pylori, but people with pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen would generally be screened for H. pylori and then treated to eliminate the infection if it is found. The main novel idea is that those people who are born in a large sibship, and/or are of higher birth order, are more likely to acquire their H. pylori from a genetically related person (a sibling) than from an unrelated person (friend/classmate). This “family-structure effect” could be the explanation as to why there is a higher risk of stomach cancer developing later—the strain from a genetically related person already is “preadapted” to the new host, and has a “head-start” on immunity, compared to a strain from an unrelated person. The researchers hypothesize that it is the nature of that initial interaction with the host that sets the stage for the kind of events that lead to cancers decades later.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A Perspective article by Dimitrios Trichopoulos and Pagona Lagiou discusses these findings further
MedLine Plus encyclopedia entry on stomach cancer
Wikipedia entry on Helicobacter pylori (Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The US National Cancer Institute publishes information about stomach cancer
PMCID: PMC1769414  PMID: 17227131
23.  Antimicrobial Resistance Incidence and Risk Factors among Helicobacter pylori–Infected Persons, United States 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(6):1088-1094.
Helicobacter pylori is the primary cause of peptic ulcer disease and an etiologic agent in the development of gastric cancer. H. pylori infection is curable with regimens of multiple antimicrobial agents, and antimicrobial resistance is a leading cause of treatment failure. The Helicobacter pylori Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Program (HARP) is a prospective, multicenter U.S. network that tracks national incidence rates of H. pylori antimicrobial resistance. Of 347 clinical H. pylori isolates collected from December 1998 through 2002, 101 (29.1%) were resistant to one antimicrobial agent, and 17 (5%) were resistant to two or more antimicrobial agents. Eighty-seven (25.1%) isolates were resistant to metronidazole, 45 (12.9%) to clarithromycin, and 3 (0.9%) to amoxicillin. On multivariate analysis, black race was the only significant risk factor (p < 0.01, hazard ratio 2.04) for infection with a resistant H. pylori strain. Formulating pretreatment screening strategies or providing alternative therapeutic regimens for high-risk populations may be important for future clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3323181  PMID: 15207062
Helicobacter pylori; antimicrobial resistance; risk factors
24.  Plasticity of Repetitive DNA Sequences within a Bacterial (Type IV) Secretion System Component 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2003;198(9):1349-1360.
DNA rearrangement permits bacteria to regulate gene content and expression. In Helicobacter pylori, cagY, which contains an extraordinary number of direct DNA repeats, encodes a surface-exposed subunit of a (type IV) bacterial secretory system. Examining potential DNA rearrangements involving the cagY repeats indicated that recombination events invariably yield in-frame open reading frames, producing alternatively expressed genes. In individual hosts, H. pylori cell populations include strains that produce CagY proteins that differ in size, due to the predicted in-frame deletions or duplications, and elicit minimal or no host antibody recognition. Using repetitive DNA, H. pylori rearrangements in a host-exposed subunit of a conserved bacterial secretion system may permit a novel form of antigenic evasion.
PMCID: PMC2194252  PMID: 14581606
Helicobacter pylori; antigenic variation; genome plasticity; pathogenicity island; type IV secretion system
25.  Anti-CagA Immunoglobulin G Responses Correlate with Interleukin-8 Induction in Human Gastric Mucosal Biopsy Culture 
Helicobacter pylori persists in the human stomach despite eliciting both cellular and humoral immune responses and inducing proinflammatory cytokines. To determine whether local humoral and cytokine responses are related to each other and to histologic responses, we studied 66 Japanese patients who underwent gastroscopy. Using specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, we examined gastric antral mucosal-organ biopsy culture supernatants to assess interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels and antibody responses to H. pylori whole-cell antigens CagA, HspA, and HspB. Of the patients studied, 11 were H. pylori negative and 55 were H. pylori positive; by PCR, all strains were cagA+. As expected, compared to H. pylori-negative patients, H. pylori-positive patients had significantly higher humoral responses to all H. pylori antigens and had higher IL-8 (47.8 ± 3.5 versus 10.1 ± 4.3 ng/mg of biopsy protein; P < 0.001) and IL-6 levels (2.8 ± 0.3 versus 0.26 ± 0.2 ng/mg of protein; P < 0.001). Among the H. pylori-positive patients, supernatant anti-CagA immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels were significantly associated with H. pylori density (P < 0.005) and neutrophil infiltration (P < 0.005) scores. Anti-CagA immunoglobulin A levels were correlated with intestinal metaplasia (P < 0.05). Mononuclear cell infiltration scores were significantly associated with supernatant IL-6 levels (P < 0.005) and with IgG responses to whole-cell antigens (P < 0.05). Supernatant IL-8 levels were significantly associated with anti-CagA IgG (r = 0.75, P < 0.001). Anti-CagA responses correlated with neutrophil infiltration, intestinal metaplasia, H. pylori density, and IL-8 levels, suggesting that the absolute levels of these antibodies may be markers for gastric inflammation and premalignant changes in individual hosts.
PMCID: PMC95959  PMID: 10973458

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