The role of Helicobacter pylori in primary gastric MALT lymphoma

Histopathology. 1999 Feb;34(2):118-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2559.1999.00597.x.


Aims: Helicobacter pylori has been claimed to be an important aetiological factor which raises the risk of mucosa-associated tissue lymphoid (MALT) lymphoma. However, some studies on gastric MALT lymphoma revealed a low rate of H. pylori infection suggesting that not all gastric lymphomas are related to H. pylori infection. The aim of this study was to verify the H. pylori infection frequency in a series of patients with primary gastric MALT lymphomas and to examine the relationship between H. pylori and the pathological features of those lymphomas.

Methods and results: Thirty-one cases of resected gastric lymphoma were analysed: 10 cases (32%) were low-grade MALT lymphomas and 21 cases (68%) were high-grade MALT lymphomas. Helicobacter pylori was found in only 18 of 31 (58%) cases. Helicobacter pylori infection was significantly correlated with the grade and depth of invasion of MALT lymphoma since 63% of superficial low-grade MALT lymphomas were positive for H. pylori compared with 38% of advanced high-grade MALT lymphomas (P = 0.02).

Conclusion: We confirmed the relationship between H. pylori infection and a subset of gastric MALT lymphoma. Our results also showed that not all low- and high-grade gastric MALT lymphomas are H. pylori-dependent. This suggests that H. pylori infection may play a promoter role in the development of MALT lymphoma, but its presence is not mandatory for the progression of the lymphoma in view of its low frequency in advanced high-grade MALT lymphoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / microbiology*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stomach Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology