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Suicide journey of H. pylori through gastric carcinogenesis: the role of non-H. pylori microbiome and potential consequences for clinical practice


Despite being one of the most studied cancer-related infections, the relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric adenocarcinoma (GC) remains, in some points, obscure. Based on a critical analysis of the available literature regarding stomach microbiota, we aimed to shed light to a possible new interpretation of the current understanding about the Helicobacter pylori-related GC carcinogenesis. We analyzed data from the literature on Helicobacter pylori and other potential carcinogenic pathogens, in both benignant conditions and gastric adenocarcinoma. Helicobacter pylori is the dominant microorganism in benignant conditions as non-complicated gastritis. In atrophic gastritis, metaplasia and, mainly, in gastric adenocarcinoma, a strong reduction in Helicobacter pylori abundance, and increased occurrence of other microorganisms is strongly demonstrated by metagenomic experiments. While causing peptic disease and keeping the stomach’s high acidity, Helicobacter pylori infection avoids gastric infection by carcinogenic intestinal microbiota. Nevertheless, Helicobacter pylori persistence may also provoke an atrophic gastritis, a condition that causes its own decline, due to a microenvironment modification, including reduced acidity, resulting in Helicobacter pylori substitution by a cancer-prone microbiota. This new interpretation might result in a dramatic modification on clinical management of Helicobacter pylori-related gastric disease.

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We acknowledge Universidade Federal do Pará (PROPESP and Fadesp) for technical support and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Teconlógico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for fellowship support.

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Correspondence to Paulo Pimentel de Assumpção.

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de Assumpção, P.P., Araújo, T.M.T., de Assumpção, P.B. et al. Suicide journey of H. pylori through gastric carcinogenesis: the role of non-H. pylori microbiome and potential consequences for clinical practice. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 38, 1591–1597 (2019).

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  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Gastric cancer
  • Microbiota
  • Dysbiosis
  • Carcinogenesis