Health Questions and Answers

Question: How does Helicobacter pylori produce mucosal damage?


The organism generally does not directly invade the epithelial cells but indirectly makes the gastric mucosa more vulnerable to acid peptic damage by disrupting the mucous layer, liberating a variety of enzymes and toxins, and adhering to and altering the gastric epithelium. In addition, the host immune response to H. pylori incites an inflammatory reaction that further perpetuates tissue injury. This chronic inflammation upsets gastric acid secretory physiology to varying degrees and leads to chronic gastritis, which, in most individuals, is asymptomatic but, in some, will lead to ulcers and even gastric cancer.


  • McColl L, El-Omar E, Gillen D: Helicobacter pylori gastritis and gastric physiology. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 29:687-703, 2000.

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