The murine Helicobacter felis model has been extensively used to investigate the importance of host factors in the development of chronic gastritis. The effect of gender in this murine model is unknown. Male and female C57BL/6J mice were infected with H felis for up to 1 year. At 4, 8, 19, 36, and 52 weeks post-infection, gastric histopathology, epithelial cell proliferation, and apoptosis were examined and compared with age- and gender-matched controls. In female mice, infection with H felis resulted in an earlier onset of chronic gastric inflammation, epithelial hyperplasia, and oxyntic cell loss than males. In females, there was a trend towards increased gastric pathology compared with males, with long-term-infected female mice having significantly greater (p < 0.05) chronic inflammation than male mice. The histopathological differences in male and female mice did not relate to the density of H felis infection. Female mice infected with H felis had significantly increased gastric epithelial cell proliferation in the cardia and corpus at both 8 and 52 weeks post-infection (p < 0.05). Epithelial cell apoptosis in the glandular mucosa of the corpus at 36 and 52 weeks post-infection was significantly increased (p < 0.05) in female mice compared with uninfected gender controls. In contrast, there was no significant increase in epithelial cell proliferation or apoptosis in any area of the stomach at any time point after H felis infection in male mice. These results demonstrate that there are gender differences in the gastric inflammatory and epithelial response to H felis in the murine model. The functional importance of gender should be considered in future murine studies on H felis- and H pylori-induced chronic gastritis.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.