Background: A high incidence of Helicobacter pylori among family members of children with H. pylori gastritis has previously been documented on biopsy material. The main objective of this study was the genetic clarification of H. pylori strains involved in intrafamilial dispersion.
Materials and methods: Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded material of antral mucosa from 32 members of 11 families was studied for the presence of genetic homogeneity. To achieve this goal, the entire genome of H. pylori was studied by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) fingerprinting method. Furthermore, the Urease A gene was analyzed using a multiplex PCR-assay and an alternative mutation detection method based on the Hydrolink trade mark analysis.
Results: RAPD fingerprinting confirmed that closely related H. pylori strains were involved in the intrafamilial dispersion. Mutations and small deletions in Urease A gene were found in 22 out of 32 individuals.
Conclusions: The homology of the H. pylori genome in members of the same family strongly supports the hypothesis of transmission of H. pylori from person-to-person or from a common source.