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Identification of helicobacter species in human liver samples from patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma


Aims: Several studies have shown the presence of helicobacter species in the human biliary tract and in the intestinal tract of animals. Experimental infection by Helicobacter hepaticus in mice causes chronic hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study investigated whether helicobacter species could be detected in the liver of patients with HCC.

Methods: Liver samples from 20 patients with primary liver carcinoma diagnosed by histopathology and 16 controls without primary liver carcinoma were studied. Histology with standard and immunohistochemical stains, culture, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification using helicobacter genus specific 16S rRNA primers were used to detect the presence of bacteria. Amplified products were identified by Southern hybridisation and sequencing. A search for other genes specific for Helicobacter pylori was also performed.

Results: Helicobacter species 16S rDNA was found in eight of 20 samples of primary liver carcinoma, whereas none of the controls harboured this rDNA. Six helicobacter specific PCR amplicons were sequenced and were found to have 98.5–99.0% similarity to the 16S rDNA of H pylori. Of the eight positive samples, seven were positive in PCR using 26 kDa protein primers and six showed morphological and immunohistochemical evidence of H pylori. The cagA and glmM genes were detected in only two samples. The vacA and rps4 genes were not detected.

Conclusions: Helicobacter can be present in the liver of patients with primary liver carcinoma and is probably linked to the carcinogenic process in the liver.

  • HBV, hepatitis B virus
  • HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma
  • HCV, hepatitis C virus
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • helicobacter
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • bacterial infection
  • 16S rRNA

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