Background: The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection and its role in gastroduodenal disease in cystic fibrosis (CF) are controversial. Additionally, serologic determination of infection in this population may be inaccurate because of cross-reactivity with other bacterial species. The seroprevalence of H. pylori in a cohort of patients with CF and its cross-reactivity with Pseudomonas antibodies were investigated.
Methods: A research enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and three commercial serologic assays (PyloriStat; BioWhittaker, Walkersville, MD, U.S.A.; Flexsure; SmithKline Diagnostics, Inc., San Jose, CA, U.S.A.; and HM-CAP; EPI, Stony Brook, NY, U.S.A.) at three independent laboratories determined the seroprevalence of anti-H. pylori IgG antibodies in 70 patients with CF. Cross-reactivity between solid-phase H. pylori antigens and Pseudomonas antibodies was ascertained by a competitive inhibition assay, preadsorbing sera of patients with CF with whole cell proteins from different Pseudomonas species, and serum reanalysis by each assay. Western blot analysis before and after adsorption was performed to identify potential cross-reactive antigens.
Results: The research ELISA, Flexsure, Pyloristat, and HM-CAP initially showed H. pylori seropositivity of 47%, 28%, 24%, and 37%, respectively. Postadsorption seropositivity declined to 8%, 0%, 0%, and 15%, respectively. All patients with research ELISA true-positive results were confirmed endoscopically to have H. pylori infection. Western blot analysis showed a 31-kDa H. pylori protein with antigenic epitopes common to both bacterial species.
Conclusions: Cross-reactivity between solid-phase H. pylori antigens and anti-Pseudomonas antibodies occurs in patients with CF. A high index of suspicion should be assumed in evaluating results of serologic H. pylori tests in this population. Preadsorption of CF sera with Pseudomonas proteins should be used in serologic testing.