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World J Gastroenterol. 2004 Feb 15;10(4):598-601.

Helicobacter species sequences in liver samples from patients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Ambulatorio di Gastroenterologia, Ospedale S Giovanni Battista, Via Chiabrera 34, III piano, 10126 Torino, Italy.



Only a minority of patients carrying a defined viral aetiologic agent develop cirrhosis and ultimately hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the mechanism underlying the worsening is still undefined. Experimental infection by Helicobacter hepaticus in mice causes chronic hepatitis and HCC and recently, more Helicobacter species (Helicobacter spp.) have been detected in the liver of patients suffering from cholestatic diseases and HCC arising from non-cirrhotic liver. We investigated whether Helicobacter spp. sequences could be detected in the liver of patients with cirrhosis and HCC compared to subjects with metastasis to liver from colon cancer.


Twenty-three liver samples from patients operated upon for HCC superimposed on hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis and 6 from patients with resected metastases from colorectal cancer, were tested by polymerase chain reaction for presence of genomic 16S rRNA of Helicobacter genus using specific primers. DNA sequencing and cag A gene analysis were also performed.


Genomic sequences of Helicobacter spp. were found in 17 of 20 (85%) liver samples from patients with HCC and in 2 of 6 samples from patients with liver metastasis. In three samples of the first group the result was uncertain. H pylori was revealed in 16 out of 17 positive samples and Helicobacter pullorum in the other.


Helicobacter spp., carcinogenic in mice, were found at a higher frequency in the liver of patients with HCV-related cirrhosis and HCC than those in patients without primary liver disease.

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