What is heliobacter pylori infection?
Helicobacter pylori, a gram-negative spiral bacterium, is the most common chronic bacterial infection in human beings. It wasn’t discovered until 1982. In 1994 it was recognized as a cause of gastric and duodenal ulcers and a prime carcinogen for gastric cancer. Since then, its relationship with colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and hepatobiliary cancer has been suspected.
Person-to-person contact is the most likely transmission method. H. pylori is able to survive and proliferate in the gastric environment by manufacturing urease to neutralize acid, allowing it to penetrate the gastric mucus layer. Its mobility helps it move through the mucus layers to the gastric cells and attach to them.
It usually does not invade the tissue, but disrupts the mucus layer such that the tissue is more vulnerable to acid damage. Simultaneously, an immune response from both the innate immune system and the cellular immune system creates an inflammatory reaction to further injure the tissue. This can then serve as an etiology for the following:
- Acute and chronic gastritis (GERD).
- Duodenal ulcer (peptic ulcer diatheses): Chronic H. pylori infection is the most important risk for duodenal ulcer. Up to 10% of those infected will develop it, and it is present in most patients with duodenal ulcer not related to NSAID use
- Gastric cancer.
Eradication of H. pylori will usually mean a permanent eradication, since re-colonization is unusual.