, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 241-247
Date: 24 Jan 2009

Helicobacter pylori induces the release of α-defensin by human granulocytes

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Little information is available on the potential role of α-defensins derived from neutrophils during H. pylori infection, or the effect of H. pylori on the α-defensin release. The effects of H. pylori on human granulocytes were investigated in vitro by flow cytometry and ELISA. Additionally we sought to identify by immunohistochemistry the α-defensins within the gastric mucosa of patients infected with H. pylori.

Materials and Methods:

The intracellular expression of α-defensin in human granulocytes and in mononuclear cells was determined by flow cytometry. Induction of α-defensin release from granulocytes, mononuclear cells, or from whole blood cultures by H. pylori was detected by measuring the HNP1-3 (α-defensin) concentrations in the supernatants by ELISA. Immunohistochemistry was used to identify HNP1-3 in infiltrating neutrophils in the gastric mucosa of eight patients.


A considerable intracellular α-defensin staining was observed in granulocytes. Stimulation of granulocytes with H. pylori resulted in a decrease in intracellular staining which was due to the extracellular release of α-defensin. In whole blood cultures H. pylori infection resulted in significantly high α-defensin concentrations (131623 ± 13986 pg/ml), which were mainly due to the activity of the granulocytes with only a minor amount furnished by the mononuclear cells. In H. pylori-infected mucosa, infiltrating neutrophils showed intense immunostaining with anti-HNP1-3. The intensity of α-defensin staining varied parallel with the density of H. pylori in the biopsy samples.


H. pylori induce α-defensin release from granulocytes which may well be important in local host response to H. pylori infection in gastroduodenal diseases.

Received 19 May 2008; returned for revision 20 October 2008; received from final revision 28 October 2008; accepted by I. Ahnfelt-Rønne 23 November 2008