European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 437-446

First online:

Prevalence of virulence-associated genotypes of Helicobacter pylori and correlation with severity of gastric pathology in patients from western Sicily, Italy

  • A. ChiariniAffiliated withDepartment of Sciences for Health Promotion, University of Palermo Email author 
  • , C. CalàAffiliated withDepartment of Sciences for Health Promotion, University of Palermo
  • , C. BonuraAffiliated withDepartment of Sciences for Health Promotion, University of Palermo
  • , A. GulloAffiliated withDepartment of Human Pathology, University of Palermo
  • , G. GiulianaAffiliated withUnit of Thoracic Surgery and Endoscopy, Azienda Ospedaliera OCR
  • , S. PeraltaAffiliated withGastroenterology, University of Palermo
  • , F. D’ArpaAffiliated withDepartment of General and Emergency Surgery and Organ Transplantation, University of Palermo
  • , A. GiammancoAffiliated withDepartment of Sciences for Health Promotion, University of Palermo

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In a bacterium like Helicobacter pylori, which is characterized by a recombinant population structure, the associated presence of genes encoding virulence factors might be considered an expression of a selective advantage conferred to strains with certain genotypes and, therefore, a potentially useful tool for predicting the clinical outcome of infections. However, differences in the geographical and ethnic prevalence of the H. pylori virulence-associated genotypes can affect their clinical predictive value and need to be considered in advance. In this study we carried out such an evaluation in a group of patients living in Sicily, the largest and most populous island in the Mediterranean Sea. cagA, vacA, babA2, hopQ, oipA, sabA, and hopZ were the H. pylori virulence-associated genes assayed; their presence, expression status or allelic homologs were detected in H. pylori DNA samples and/or isolated strains, obtained by gastric biopsy from 90 Sicilian patients with chronic gastritis, inactive (n = 37), active (n = 26), or active with peptic ulcer (n = 27). Genotypes cagA +, vacAs1, vacAm1, babA2 +, and hopQ I, I/II were identified in 51.8, 80.4, 35.2, 47.3, and 67.7% of the different samples respectively. Only these genotypes were associated with each other and with the active form of chronic gastritis, irrespective of the presence of a peptic ulcer. In our isolates their prevalence was more similar to values observed in the north of Italy and France than to those observed in Spain or other Mediterranean countries that are closer and climatically more similar to western Sicily.