Background: Little is known about the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant Helicobacter pylori infection in children. Culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing are generally time-consuming and not a routine in many hospitals.
Objective: To investigate the prevalence of clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori strains in children, to identify those isolates via rapid methodology and to examine the severity of gastritis caused by the antibiotic-resistant H. pylori isolates.
Methods: Enrolled were 245 children investigated for H. pylori infection by endoscopic examination. The gastric antral specimens were subjected to DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) with primers specific to the H. pylori 23S rRNA gene. Conventional bacterial cultures were performed simultaneously as the diagnostic standard. Minimal inhibitory concentrations of clarithromycin and metronidazole were determined by E test. This was used as a standard to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the above PCR-RFLP assay. The specimens were processed for histologic examination and evaluated by the updated Sydney system.
Results: H. pylori was isolated in 67 of the 245 children; 12 (18%) of them were clarithromycin-resistant and 6 (9%) were metronidazole-resistant. No difference in histologic examinations was noted between the antibiotic-resistant and -susceptible strains. We performed PCR-RFLP with all 12 clarithromycin-resistant isolates: 10 had a 23S ribosomal RNA A2144G point mutation; 1 had a mixture of an A2143G point mutant and susceptible strains; and 1 had neither of the 2 mutations.
Conclusions: The prevalence of clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori isolates in Taiwanese children is 18%. PCR-RFLP had a high sensitivity (92%) and specificity (100%) for the clarithromycin resistance gene mutation determination. The dominant mutation is A2144G. PCR-RFLP provides a rapid and accurate approach to detect clarithromycin-resistant strains within 24 h.