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Up-regulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase in Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis may represent an increased risk factor to develop gastric carcinoma of the intestinal type

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The enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is part of the host innate defense system against bacterial infection. During chronic inflammation, like that seen with a Helicobacter pylori infection, constant nitric oxide production may lead to tissue and DNA damage, thus increasing the patient's risk for developing cancer. Several investigations on iNOS expression in H. pylori-associated gastritis have resulted in conflicting data. Therefore, we investigated the association between chronic H. pylori infection and iNOS expression in samples from stomach carcinoma patients as well as in antral biopsies from patients with H. pylori-associated gastritis. iNOS expression was analyzed by means of reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR and quantified by competitive RT-PCR. To study in situ localization of iNOS in biopsy samples, immunohistochemistry was performed. iNOS enzyme activity was quantified using an arginine/citrulline assay. A significant increase in iNOS mRNA signal was only present in one-third of the analyzed patient biopsies with H. pylori-associated gastritis. These biopsies showed a 90% association with intestinal metaplasia and a 100% association with CagA-positive H. pylori. Intestinal metaplasia is discussed to be one step in the carcinogenesis of stomach cancer. Quantitation of iNOS transcripts and iNOS enzyme activity in non-cancerous mucosa of gastric cancer patients revealed a significant increase in iNOS transcripts and iNOS activity only in the mucosa of patients with stomach cancer of the intestinal type but not in the diffuse type. Our results support the hypothesis that CagA-positive H. pylori strains are associated with the expression and activity of iNOS, and therefore might contribute to the development of intestinal metaplasia leading to gastric cancer of the intestinal type.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Surgery, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany 2: Institute for Surgical Research, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany 3: Department of Pathology, Klinikum Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany

Publication date: December 1, 2003


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