Molecular detection of Campylobacter jejuni in archival cases of acute appendicitis

Mod Pathol. 2006 Aug;19(8):1042-6. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800640. Epub 2006 May 19.


The role of enteric bacteria in the pathogenesis of acute appendicitis is a controversial subject. Campylobacter jejuni has been previously demonstrated in a minority of cases of acute appendicitis using microbiological or immunohistochemical methods, notably in cases where inflammation was limited to the mucosa/submucosa. Our goal was to evaluate cases of acute appendicitis for C. jejuni DNA using molecular methods, and to compare our findings to the histologic features. In total, 50 archival cases of acute appendicitis were selected, and PCR was performed using primers targeting a 286-bp fragment of the mapA gene specific to C. jejuni. Twenty histologically unremarkable appendectomy specimens served as negative controls. Cases were reviewed with attention to particular histological features including mucosal ulceration, cryptitis, depth of inflammatory infiltrate, and the presence of mural necrosis. Of acute appendicitis cases, 22% (11/50) were positive for C. jejuni DNA by PCR analysis. Control cases were negative for C. jejuni DNA. All patients presented with signs and symptoms typical of acute appendicitis. Of the C. jejuni positive cases, only 27% contained acute inflammation limited to the mucosa/submucosa, whereas the remainder had mural or transmural inflammation; therefore, the histological features of C. jejuni-positive acute appendicitis cases were indistinguishable from C. jejuni-negative cases. In summary, C. jejuni DNA was detected in a significant percentage (22%) of acute appendicitis cases, a much higher percentage than previous studies using other methodologies. As C. jejuni is an enteric pathogen that does not exist as a commensal or nonpathogenic organism, the presence of C. jejuni DNA implies current or recent infection. Further study is needed to determine whether the presence of C. jejuni DNA in acute appendicitis indicates appendiceal involvement by C. jejuni enteritis, or if there is a true causative role for C. jejuni in acute appendicitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appendicitis / microbiology*
  • Appendix / microbiology
  • Appendix / pathology
  • Campylobacter Infections / microbiology*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / genetics
  • Campylobacter jejuni / isolation & purification*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA, Bacterial