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Modes of adherence of Helicobacter pylori to gastric surface epithelium in gastroduodenal disease: A possible sequence of events leading to internalisation

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We have investigated various modes of adherence of Helicobacter pylori to the human gastric epithelium, using transmission electron microscopy, in biopsies from nine patients with peptic ulcer disease and from four patients with chronic active gastritis. H. pylori was demonstrated in abundance in all cases within the surface mucous layer. In all ulcer- and in one out of four gastritis patients H. pylori was shown in close proximity to the gastric epithelium, with concurrent alterations in the configuration of microvilli and the apical cytoplasmic region of gastric cells. Previously described modes of H. pylori adherence were confirmed, such as loose attachment with fibrillar-like strands, firm attachment with pedestal formation, invasion in the intercellular spaces, and invagination with “cup” formation. Moreover, in many cases a fusion between the bacterial outer layer and gastric cell membranes was evident. In four cases (31%; three with active and one with past ulcer disease) viable H. pylori was found in the cytoplasm of gastric mucous cells. Our results support the hypothesis that the different modes of adherence of H. pylori represent a stepwise, possibly sequential, process which in a significant number of cases leads to internalisation of the organism. The invariable occurrence of adhesion and more frequent internalisation of H. pylori in ulcer patients may suggest a link with the pathogenesis of peptic ulcer disease.
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Keywords: Helicobacter pylori; adherence; electron microscopy; peptic ulcer disease

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathology and 2: Department of Pathology, Sahlgren's University Hospital, Göteborg and 3: Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden 4: Department of Surgical and Medical Gastroenterology, Huddinge University Hospital, Huddinge,

Publication date: 01 June 2000

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