The design of vaccines against Helicobacter pylori and their development

Annu Rev Immunol. 2001;19:523-63. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.19.1.523.


Helicobacter pylori is a gram negative, spiral, microaerophylic bacterium that infects the stomach of more than 50% of the human population worldwide. It is mostly acquired during childhood and, if not treated, persists chronically, causing chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, and in some individuals, gastric adenocarcinoma and gastric B cell lymphoma. The current therapy, based on the use of a proton-pump inhibitor and antibiotics, is efficacious but faces problems such as patient compliance, antibiotic resistance, and possible recurrence of infection. The development of an efficacious vaccine against H. pylori would thus offer several advantages. Various approaches have been followed in the development of vaccines against H. pylori, most of which have been based on the use of selected antigens known to be involved in the pathogenesis of the infection, such as urease, the vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA), the cytotoxin-associated antigen (CagA), the neutrophil-activating protein (NAP), and others, and intended to confer protection prophylactically and/or therapeutically in animal models of infection. However, very little is known of the natural history of H. pylori infection and of the kinetics of the induced immune responses. Several lines of evidence suggest that H. pylori infection is accompanied by a pronounced Th1-type CD4(+) T cell response. It appears, however, that after immunization, the antigen-specific response is predominantly polarized toward a Th2-type response, with production of cytokines that can inhibit the activation of Th1 cells and of macrophages, and the production of proinflammatory cytokines. The exact effector mechanisms of protection induced after immunization are still poorly understood. The next couple of years will be crucial for the development of vaccines against H. pylori. Several trials are foreseen in humans, and expectations are that most of the questions being asked now on the host-microbe interactions will be answered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Bacterial Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • Bacterial Vaccines* / immunology
  • Cats
  • Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic
  • Dogs
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / therapeutic use
  • Ferrets
  • Gastritis / drug therapy
  • Gastritis / immunology
  • Gastritis / microbiology
  • Gastritis / prevention & control*
  • Helicobacter Infections / drug therapy
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology
  • Helicobacter Infections / prevention & control*
  • Helicobacter pylori / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Urease / immunology
  • Urease / physiology
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • VacA protein, Helicobacter pylori
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • cagA protein, Helicobacter pylori
  • neutrophil-activating protein A, Helicobacter pylori
  • Urease