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Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Aug;94(8):2094-9.

Changes in seroepidemiological pattern of Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis A virus over the last 20 years in Japan.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto, Japan.



The age groups most susceptible to infection and the mode of transmission of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are not yet clear. To contribute to a better understanding of this disease, this study was undertaken to evaluate changes in the seroepidemiological pattern of H. pylori in a group of Japanese people over the last 20 yr sampled in 1974, 1984, and 1994 in comparison with that of the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which was used as a marker of the fecal-oral route of transmission.


A total of 1015 serum samples were obtained from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo. All of these samples were from healthy persons aged 0-89 yr (442 male and 573 female; median age 35.6 yr), living in seven prefectures in the central part of Japan in 1974, 1984, and 1994. All serum samples were assayed for H. pylori IgG by means of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Further, anti-HAV antibodies were assayed by blocking ELISA in the same samples. We investigated the prevalence of H. pylori and HAV for all ages, and the positive rate of H. pylori for infants and children separately.


The overall prevalence of H. pylori antibodies was 72.7% (CI 95%, 68.0-77.3) in 1974, 54.6% (CI 95%, 49.1-60.0) in 1984 and 39.3% (CI 95%, 34.1-44.4) in 1994. That of HAV was 57.7% (CI 95%, 52.5-62.8) in 1974, 41.7% (CI 95%, 36.3-47.0) in 1984, and 23.4% (CI 95%, 18.9-27.8) in 1994. The prevalence of both H. pylori and HAV was found to increase with age, whereas there have been clear cohort shifts in the seroepidemiological patterns of both infections over the last 20 yr in Japan. This study shows that there is a slight similarity in the concordance of positive and negative populations between H. pylori and HAV. However, it was very difficult to determine the concordance between H. pylori and HAV infection in this study.


Our data strongly suggest that the highest infection rates for both H. pylori and HAV occur among infants and children in Japan. This study provides evidence that H. pylori and HAV may share a common mode of transmission but that changes in environmental conditions make this very difficult if not impossible to prove with seroepidemiological data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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