Table of Contents
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 340157, 23 pages
Review Article

The Human Gastric Pathogen Helicobacter pylori and Its Association with Gastric Cancer and Ulcer Disease

Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Campus Charité Mitte, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Received 8 October 2010; Accepted 25 April 2011

Academic Editor: Hajime Kuwayama

Copyright © 2011 Bianca Bauer and Thomas F. Meyer. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


With the momentous discovery in the 1980's that a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, can cause peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer, antibiotic therapies and prophylactic measures have been successful, only in part, in reducing the global burden of these diseases. To date, ~700,000 deaths worldwide are still attributable annually to gastric cancer alone. Here, we review H. pylori's contribution to the epidemiology and histopathology of both gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease. Furthermore, we examine the host-pathogen relationship and H. pylori biology in context of these diseases, focusing on strain differences, virulence factors (CagA and VacA), immune activation and the challenges posed by resistance to existing therapies. We consider also the important role of host-genetic variants, for example, in inflammatory response genes, in determining infection outcome and the role of H. pylori in other pathologies—some accepted, for example, MALT lymphoma, and others more controversial, for example, idiopathic thrombocytic purpura. More recently, intriguing suggestions that H. pylori has protective effects in GERD and autoimmune diseases, such as asthma, have gained momentum. Therefore, we consider the basis for these suggestions and discuss the potential impact for future therapeutic rationales.