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Helicobacter Pylori

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Helicobacter Pylori is a Gram negative helical shaped. The bacterium is very common with approximately 50% of people being carriers worldwide. (1, 5)
Transmission of the bacteria is not fully understood although it is linked to ingestion of fecal matter or improperly treated water. This is thought since it is has to be acquired through the oral route in order to infect the gastric region. Also cases of infection are much more common in underdeveloped countries that have less access to properly treated water. (1)
Helicobacter Pylori has many different virulence factors all which contribute to its pathogenicity. Firstly it can form biofilms to wall itself off from the host immune system. (2) Secondly it has flagella making it very motile. It
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It uses chemotaxis to determine which direction it must travel by sensing the proton gradient within the stomach. It connects to host cells via an array of different adhesins which attach the bacterium to lipid or carbohydrate components on the cell membrane. (2) One of the largest contributors to Helicobacter Pylori’s pathogenicity is its pathogenicity island. This pathogenicity island (type 4) is often absent in asymptomatic carriers and is thought to give the bacterium the ability to cause ulceration of the stomach lining. This pathogenicity island injects peptidoglycan from their cell wall as an inflammatory agent to stimulate the host’s immune response. (2) This response by the immune system is thought to cause the eventual ulceration of the gastric lining. (1) To combat the effects of the highly acidic stomach, a defense mechanism of the body, Helicobacter Pylori produces ammonia to counter the acidity of the hydrogen ions.…show more content…
(5) The disease also has a major complication of forming gastric cancers. (2, 5) Although this mechanism is not fully understood it is thought that the bacterium produces free radicals while burrowed into the gastric epithelium which increases host cell mutations leading to cancer. (2)
Usually Helicobacter Pylori is treated with a Proton Pump Inhibitor, and antibiotics such as Clarithromycin (protein synthesis inhibitor) or Amoxicillin (Bacterial cell wall synthesis) in most cases. (3, 4) This is usually affective in treating the infection however there are some resistant strains appearing globally. Due to this increasing number of antibiotic resistant strains other methods such as introducing competitive bacterium into the stomach (probiotics) is becoming increasingly used and has so far proven effective. (4)
There are no vaccines for Helicobacter Pylori. This may be due to the fact that many people worldwide are carriers and asymptomatic, because it is not usually spread by person to person contact, or because Helicobacter Pylori does not pose large enough of a threat to be able to be addressed by a
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