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The co-evolved Helicobacter pylori and gastric cancer: trinity of bacterial virulence, host susceptibility and lifestyle

Author(s): Akhter Yusuf | Ahmed Irshad | Devi S Manjulata | Ahmed Niyaz

Journal: Infectious Agents and Cancer
ISSN 1750-9378

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 2;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Abstract Helicobacter pylori is an important yet unproven etiological agent of gastric cancer. H. pylori infection is more prevalent in developing Asian countries like India and it is usually acquired at an early age. It has been two decades since Marshall and Warren (1984) first described curved bacilli in the stomach of ulcer and gastritis patients. This discovery has won them the Nobel Prize recently, but the debate whether H. pylori is a pathogen or a commensal organism is still hot. Associations with disease-specific factors remain illusive years after the genome sequences were made available. Cytotoxin-associated antigen A (CagA) and the so-called plasticity region cluster genes are implicated in pathogenesis of the carcinoma of stomach. Another virulence factor VacA whose role is still debatable, has recently been projected in pathology of gastric cancer. Studies of the evolution through genetic variation in H. pylori populations have provided a window into the history of human population migrations and a possible co-evolution of this pathogen with its human host. Possible symbiotic relationships were seriously debated since the discovery of this pathogen. The debate has been further intensified as some studies proposed H. pylori infection to be beneficial in some humans. In this commentary, we attempt to briefly discuss about H. pylori as a human pathogen, and some of the important issues linked to its pathophysiology in different hosts. 'We dance around in a ring and suppose, the secret sits in the middle and knows' – Robert Frost
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