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Infect Immun. May 1996; 64(5): 1548–1558.
PMCID: PMC173960

Chronic proliferative hepatitis in A/JCr mice associated with persistent Helicobacter hepaticus infection: a model of helicobacter-induced carcinogenesis.


Helicobacter hepaticus causes hepatitis in selected strains of mice and in A/JCr mice is linked to liver cancer. To analyze whether H. hepaticus persists in specified ecological niches, to determine whether biomarkers of infection exist, and to analyze the influence of H. hepaticus on hepatocyte proliferation, a longitudinal study of H. hepaticus-infected A/JCr mice was undertaken. A/JCr mice were serially euthanatized from 3 through 18 months and surveyed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; bacterial culture of liver, colon, and cecum; histology; electron microscopy; hepatocyte proliferation indices determined by using 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine; and measurement of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase. In infected animals throughout the 18-month study, H. hepaticus was consistently isolated from the lower bowel but only sporadically from the liver. By electron microscopy, H. hepaticus was noted infrequently and only in bile canaliculi. Infected mice, particularly males, showed chronic inflammation; oval cell, Kupffer cell, and Ito cell hyperplasia; hepatocytomegaly; and bile duct proliferation. The inflammatory and necrotizing lesion was progressive and involved the hepatic parenchyma, portal triads, and intralobular venules. Hepatic adenomas were noted only in male mice, whereas 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine proliferation indices were markedly increased in both sexes, but especially in males, compared to control A/J mice. Infected mice also developed sustained anti-H. hepaticus serum immunoglobulin G antibody responses and elevated alanine aminotransferase levels. H. hepaticus, which persists in the lower bowels and livers of A/JCr mice, is associated with a chronic proliferative hepatitis, and hepatomas in selected male mice indicate that this novel bacterium may cause an increased risk of hepatic cancer induction in susceptible strains of mice. This murine model should prove useful in dissecting the molecular events operable in the development of neoplasms induced by bacteria belonging to this expanding genera of pathogenic Helicobacter species.

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