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PLoS One. 2008;3(12):e3849. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003849. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

High diversity of vacA and cagA Helicobacter pylori genotypes in patients with and without gastric cancer.

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Programa de Inmunología Molecular Microbiana, Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico.



Helicobacter pylori is associated with chronic gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer. The aim of this study was to assess the topographical distribution of H. pylori in the stomach as well as the vacA and cagA genotypes in patients with and without gastric cancer.


Three gastric biopsies, from predetermined regions, were evaluated in 16 patients with gastric cancer and 14 patients with dyspeptic symptoms. From cancer patients, additional biopsy specimens were obtained from tumor centers and margins; among these samples, the presence of H. pylori vacA and cagA genotypes was evaluated. Positive H. pylori was 38% and 26% in biopsies obtained from the gastric cancer and non-cancer groups, respectively (p = 0.008), and 36% in tumor sites. In cancer patients, we found a preferential distribution of H. pylori in the fundus and corpus, whereas, in the non-cancer group, the distribution was uniform (p = 0.003). A majority of the biopsies were simultaneously cagA gene-positive and -negative. The fundus and corpus demonstrated a higher positivity rate for the cagA gene in the non-cancer group (p = 0.036). A mixture of cagA gene sizes was also significantly more frequent in this group (p = 0.003). Ninety-two percent of all the subjects showed more than one vacA gene genotype; s1b and m1 vacA genotypes were predominantly found in the gastric cancer group. The highest vacA-genotype signal-sequence diversity was found in the corpus and 5 cm from tumor margins.


High H. pylori colonization diversity, along with the cagA gene, was found predominantly in the fundus and corpus of patients with gastric cancer. The genotype diversity observed across systematic whole-organ and tumor sampling was remarkable. We find that there is insufficient evidence to support the association of one isolate with a specific disease, due to the multistrain nature of H. pylori infection shown in this work.

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