Helicobacter pylori bacteria: the "chameleon" in the stomach

Helicobacter pylori bacteria: the

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Stomach germ is considered the main cause of stomach cancer
About 40 percent of people in this country are chronically infected with Helicobacter pylori. It is a type of bacteria that colonizes the gastric mucosa and can cause stomach ulcers, among other things. In addition, Helicobacter pylori infestation leads to an increased risk of stomach cancer. The special thing about the germ is its quick adaptability to humans, which makes it as individual as a fingerprint. Scientists at the Medical University of Hanover (MHH) have now found the reason for this extraordinary variability in collaboration with a statistics expert from the Imperial College in London. The researchers published their results in the journal "Nature Communications".

Acute gastritis often occurs first
About every fourth adult in Germany is infected with the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori (short: H. Pylori), which lives on and within the gastric mucosa. Accordingly, the first sign of infection is often acute gastritis, which can eventually become chronic inflammation and lead to a number of problems. Possible here are e.g. Stomach discomfort or ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, H. Pylori are also considered to be the cause of most gastric cancer. A study conducted by Swiss researchers recently showed that patients treated with antibiotics a few hours after infection could significantly reduce the risk of gastric cancer compared to untreated patients.

Bacteria exchange DNA fragments when they meet in the stomach
The unusual thing about the pathogen is its variability. Because like no other bacterium, it changes its genes in the course of the infection, which enables it to adapt precisely to humans. Scientists from the Hannover Medical School (MHH) in cooperation with the statistics expert Dr. Xavier Didelot from Imperial College London found out the reason for the unique adaptability of the "chameleon" in the stomach.

According to a current announcement from the MHH, it was known before the study by the Hanoverians that two different Helicobacter pylori bacteria exchange DNA fragments when they meet in the stomach. Now it could be shown that the great individuality is due to two specific recording mechanisms, which lead to fragments of different lengths being integrated. “The inclusion of very short gene snippets that are less than 50 base pairs long enables the bacteria to have extremely high variability within the genes. The inclusion of longer, on average 1,600 base pairs, DNA pieces ensures consistency and the possibility of exchanging entire genes, "Professor Dr. Sebastian Suerbaum quoted in the university report. "The effect of the genetic material exchange is even similar to that which takes place in sexually reproductive organisms," continues the head of the MHH Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene.

Variability complicates the development of a vaccine
Now Suerbaum and his team want to research the underlying molecular mechanisms, reports the university. However, they had already made a discovery: They recognized that many so-called “restriction enzymes” occur in Helicobacter pylori, which can recognize and cut foreign DNA at certain positions. However, the pieces of DNA taken from other Helicobacter pylori bacteria would be integrated into the genome independently of these enzymes. The problem with this: It is precisely this great genetic variability that makes it difficult to develop a vaccine against this pathogen. (No)

Author and source information

Video: Intestinal Parasite Infections. In Vitro Diagnostics Asia (May 2022).


  1. Eatun

    wonderfully, very valuable answer

  2. Kildaire

    a year old at the thought))

  3. Severne

    It is remarkable, it is an amusing piece

  4. Rodell

    You are not right. I'm sure.

  5. Zayne

    it doesn't have the analogs?

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