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Science. 2002 Nov 29;298(5599):1788-90.

Molecular hydrogen as an energy source for Helicobacter pylori.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


The gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori is known to be able to use molecular hydrogen as a respiratory substrate when grown in the laboratory. We found that hydrogen is available in the gastric mucosa of mice and that its use greatly increased the stomach colonization by H. pylori. Hydrogenase activity in H. pylori is constitutive but increased fivefold upon incubation with hydrogen. Hydrogen concentrations measured in the stomachs of live mice were found to be 10 to 50 times as high as the H. pylori affinity for hydrogen. A hydrogenase mutant strain is much less efficient in its colonization of mice. Therefore, hydrogen present in animals as a consequence of normal colonic flora is an energy-yielding substrate that can facilitate the maintenance of a pathogenic bacterium.

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