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Infect Immun. 2005 Mar;73(3):1664-70.

Gastric helicobacter infection induces a Th2 phenotype but does not elevate serum cholesterol in mice lacking inducible nitric oxide synthase.

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  • 1Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Bldg. 16, Rm. 825C, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Persistent Helicobacter felis infection in (C57BL/6 x 129SvEv)F1 mice induces chronic gastritis. Expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is upregulated in response to Helicobacter infection. In this study, 20 10-week-old iNOS-/- mice and 20 wild-type [(C57BL/6 x 129SvEv)F1] mice were infected with H. felis by oral gavage and were assessed histologically and serologically at 32 weeks postinfection. Equal numbers of uninfected controls were sham inoculated. The mice were scored for severity of gastric inflammation, hyperplasia, glandular atrophy, and mucous metaplasia in the corpus and for the level of helicobacter colonization. The immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1), IgG2a, and IgG2c antibody responses to H. felis were determined. As a secondary measure, serum cholesterol levels were assessed. iNOS-/- mice have a propensity for increased serum cholesterol, and although controversial, several human epidemiologic studies have demonstrated an association between Helicobacter infection and several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including elevated serum cholesterol. Nevertheless, no differences in serum cholesterol levels were observed between the H. felis-infected and -uninfected iNOS-/- mice in this study. The uninfected animals had minimal to no gastric pathology. The gastric pathology scores for the infected animals were reduced significantly in the iNOS-deficient mice relative to those for the wild-type mice (all P <0.01). Helicobacter-infected iNOS-/- mice had chronic lymphoid infiltration and negligible to mild glandular atrophy and mucous metaplasia in the fundic mucosa, while H. felis-infected wild-type mice had severe atrophic and metaplastic mucosal changes. The atrophic gastritis in the infected wild-type mice, particularly the female mice, was also accompanied by greater granulocytic infiltration, antral hyperplasia, and diminished antral colonization, unlike that in the infected iNOS-/- mice. iNOS-/- mice developed significantly lower Th1-associated IgG2c antibody responses to H. felis (P <0.0003); the Th2-associated IgG1 responses were similar (P=0.09), suggesting a greater effect of the iNOS defect on Th1 responses. H. felis colonization was significantly greater in the iNOS-deficient mice. These findings are indicative of an impaired Th1 component of the H. felis-induced inflammatory response when the influence of iNOS is removed.

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