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Int J Med Microbiol. 2001 Mar;290(8):647-58.

Virulence factors of Helicobacter pylori.

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Centro CNR Biomembrane and Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Università di Padova, Italy.


To date a number of virulence factors have been identified and characterised from the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. The vacuolating toxin (VacA) is a major determinant of H. pylori-associated gastric disease. In non-polarised cells, VacA alters the endocytic pathway, resulting in the release of acid hydrolases and the reduction of both extracellular ligand degradation and antigen processing. The toxin forms trans-membrane anion-specific channels and reduces the transepithelial electrical resistance of polarized monolayers. Localization of the VacA channels in acidic intracellular compartments causes osmotic swelling which, together with membrane fusion, leads to vacuole formation. The neutrophil-activating protein of H. pylori (HP-NAP) induces the production of oxygen radicals in human neutrophils via a cascade of intracellular activation events which may contribute to the damage of the stomach mucosa. This protein has recently been shown to be an important antigen in the human immune response to H. pylori infection. In addition, mice vaccinated with recombinant HP-NAP were protected against H. pylori challenge. H. pylori strains that are associated with severe tissue damage and inflammation possess the cag pathogenicity island that contains several genes encoding factors involved in the induction of proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines and of a type IV secretion system involved in the delivery of a highly immunogenic protein, CagA, into eukaryotic cells. Recent advances in our understanding of the involvement of VacA, HP-NAP and the CagA/Type IV secretion system in the H. pylori-associated disease process are discussed in this review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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