Is the sanctuary where Helicobacter pylori avoids antibacterial treatment intracellular?

L. Engstrand, Dy Graham, A. Scheynius, R. M. Genta, Fak El-Zaatari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The sanctuary site where Helicobacter pylori evades antimicrobial therapy is unknown, but considerable data exist about an intracellular location for H pylori. Ten H pylori-infected volunteers received standard triple antimicrobial therapy for 2 weeks. Gastric mucosal biopsy specimens were obtained with jumbo forceps on therapy days 0, 3, 14, and 42. Hematoxylin-eosin staining was used for classification of gastritis and the Genta stain for the visualization of H pylori. Immunohistochemical staining was used to detect HLA-DR antigens, human heat shock protein (HSP60), and the bacterial HSP60 antigen. Bacterial HSP60 was expressed on the mucosal surface and within epithelial cells. No such expression of human HSP60 was found, which supports a bacterial origin for the intracellular HSP60. Coexpression of bacterial HSP60 and HLA-DR was always observed, indicating an ongoing local immune response. Infection was cleared on day 14, but when examined 4 weeks after completion of therapy, Genta staining indicated that only five volunteers remained free of H pylori. However, results of immunohistochemical staining were negative at this time for only two volunteers. Disappearance of intracellular expression of bacterial HSP60 remained after therapy and correlated with the intensity of chronic inflammatory cell infiltration. These data are consistent with the intracellular localization of H pylori having a role in inflammation and as a protective strategy against extracellular antibacterial activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-509
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1997


  • Antimicrobial therapy
  • Carcinogen
  • Gastritis
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Intracellular compartment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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