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J Clin Microbiol. 2008 May;46(5):1774-9. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01737-07. Epub 2008 Mar 19.

Differences in virulence markers between Helicobacter pylori strains from Iraq and those from Iran: potential importance of regional differences in H. pylori-associated disease.

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Institute of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation, Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, United Kingdom.


Helicobacter pylori causes peptic ulceration and gastric adenocarcinoma; the latter is common in Iran but not in Iraq. We hypothesized that more virulent H. pylori strains may be found in Iran than in Iraq and so compared established and newly described virulence factors in strains from these countries. We studied 59 unselected dyspeptic patients from Iran and 49 from Iraq. cagA was found in similar proportions of strains from both countries (76% in Iran versus 71% in Iraq) and was significantly associated with peptic ulcer disease in Iraq (P <or= 0.01) but not in Iran. cagA alleles encoding four or more tyrosine phosphorylation motifs were found in 12% of the Iranian strains but none of the Iraqi strains (P = 0.02). There were no significant differences in the vacA signal-, middle-, or intermediate-region types between Iranian and Iraqi strains. Among the strains from Iran, vacA genotypes showed no specific peptic ulcer associations, but among the strains from Iraq, vacA i1 strains were associated with gastric ulcer (P <or= 0.02), mimicking their previously demonstrated association with gastric cancer in Iran. dupA was found in similar proportions of Iranian and Iraqi strains (38% and 32%, respectively) and was associated with peptic ulceration in Iraqi patients (P <or= 0.01) but not Iranian patients. H. pylori strains from Iraq and Iran possess virulence factors similar to those in Western countries. The presence of cagA with more phosphorylation motifs in Iranian strains may contribute to the higher incidence of gastric cancer. However, the association between strain virulence markers and disease in Iraq but not Iran suggests that other host and environmental factors may be more important in the disease-prone Iranian population.

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