A concept on the role of Helicobacter pylori infection in autoimmune pancreatitis

J Cell Mol Med. Jan-Mar 2005;9(1):196-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2005.tb00349.x.


Autoimmune pancreatitis, an inflammatory process of the pancreas due to an autoimmune mechanism establishing etiology of chronic pancreatitis, is characterized by the presence of autoantibodies, hypergammaglobulinemia, pancreatic enlargement, pancreatic duct strictures, and pathologic features of fibrotic changes with intense, mainly lymphocytic infiltrations, which may contribute to tissue destruction probably by apoptosis. In almost 60% of the cases, this type of pancreatitis coexists with other autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome, sclerosing extrahepatic cholangitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, or other extrapancreatic disorders, and recently with gastric peptic ulceration. The diversity of extrapancreatic lesions with similar histopathologic findings suggests general involvement of the digestive system in this disease, although the presence of such involvement has not been fully elucidated. Similarly, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, a well known cause of gastric ulcer, has been associated, via molecular mimicry of host structures by its constituents with the same autoimmune conditions, also characterized by fibrotic changes and/or lymphoplasmacytic inflammations, accompanied by aberrations of T cell apoptosis that contribute to hepatobiliary- or extrahepatic-tissue destruction. Considering that H. pylori is involved in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of these autoimmune disorders, we propose that this organism might trigger autoimmune pancreatitis through induction of autoimmunity and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications*
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Mimicry
  • Pancreas / immunology
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatitis / complications*
  • Pancreatitis / immunology
  • Pancreatitis / pathology
  • Sex Factors
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology