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Infect Immun. Jun 1991; 59(6): 1875–1880.
PMCID: PMC257936

Helicobacter mustelae-induced gastritis and elevated gastric pH in the ferret (Mustela putorius furo).


Helicobacter mustelae has been cultured from the stomachs of ferrets with chronic gastritis; the lesions in the stomach have many of the same histological features seen in H. pylori gastritis in humans. To determine whether H. mustelae-negative ferrets with normal gastric mucosa were susceptible to colonization and whether gastritis developed after infection, four H. mustelae-negative ferrets treated with cimetidine were inoculated orally on two successive days with 3 ml (1.5 x 10(8) CFU) of H. mustelae; eight age-matched H. mustelae-negative ferrets served as controls. All four ferrets became colonized; H. mustelae persisted through week 24 of the study, as determined by positive gastric culture, tissue urease, and Warthin-Starry staining of gastric tissue. Superficial gastritis developed in the oxyntic gastric mucosa, and a full-thickness gastritis, composed primarily of lymphocytes and plasma cells plus small numbers of neutrophils and eosinophils, was present in the antrum. The inflammation was accompanied by an elevation of immunoglobulin G antibody to H. mustelae. At 4 weeks post-inoculation, the four infected (experimental) ferrets developed an elevated gastric pH (4.0 to 5.2) for 2 weeks. The eight control ferrets did not have gastritis; H. mustelae could not be demonstrated in gastric tissue via culture, nor was there an immune response to the bacteria. In ferrets, H. mustelae readily colonizes the stomach and produces a gastritis, a significant immune response, and, like H. pylori infection in humans, a transient elevated gastric pH after Helicobacter infection.

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