AIMS--To investigate the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori in the saliva of patients infected with this bacterium. METHODS--A novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was developed to detect H pylori in saliva and gastric biopsy specimens from patients undergoing endoscopy. RESULTS--Our PCR assay amplified a 417 base pair fragment of DNA from all 21 DNAs derived from H pylori clinical isolates but did not amplify DNA from 23 non-H pylori strains. Sixty three frozen gastric biopsy and 56 saliva specimens were tested. H pylori specific DNA was detected by PCR in all 39 culture positive biopsy specimens and was also identified from another seven biopsy specimens which were negative by culture but positive by histology. H pylori specific DNA was identified by PCR in saliva specimens from 30 (75%) of 40 patients with H pylori infection demonstrated by culture or histological examination, or both, and in three patients without H pylori infection in the stomach. CONCLUSION--The results indicate that the oral cavity harbours H pylori and may be the source of infection and transmission.
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