Background: Resistance of Helicobacter pylori to clarithromycin is mostly due to the point mutations in the 23S rRNA. In Japan, however, the frequency of these mutations has not been fully investigated. Furthermore, no study has used gastric biopsy specimens to detect these point mutations.
Methods: The frequency of primary clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori was examined by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP). Eighty-two strains (42 isolated from patients with gastric cancer and 40 isolated from patients with chronic gastritis) were examined. Two biopsy specimens obtained from patients in whom eradication therapy including clarithromycin had failed were also studied.
Results: Either A2143G or A2144G point mutation was detected in 90% of clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori strains. Eight out of 82 strains (9.8%) had either A2143G or A2144G point mutation. Only one out of 42 strains in patients with gastric cancer had A2143G mutation, whereas five strains had A2144G and two had A2143G mutations in 40 strains isolated from control subjects. The proportion was significantly lower in patients with early gastric cancer (P < 0.05). This PCR-RFLP was also applicable for DNA samples extracted from biopsy specimens and infection of clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori was observed.
Conclusion: The results suggest that the point mutation in the 23S rRNA gene is commonly seen in clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori and it contributes to the treatment failure in Japan. The PCR-RFLP system is a sensitive method by which to diagnose H. pylori infection as well as a simple method for detecting clarithromycin resistance without bacterial culture.