Background: Host factors play an important role in the pathophysiology of Helicobacter pylori infection and development of gastritis and related disease. The established opinion is that the T-cell-mediated immune response to H. pylori infection is of Th1 type. Our earlier immune cell phenotype studies indicate a mixed Th1-Th2 profile of the effector cells. Therefore, an extensive adaptive and regulatory cytokine gene expression profile was conducted by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).
Materials and methods: Biopsies from gastric mucosa of 91 patients diagnosed as H. pylori negative, H. pylori positive with gastritis, or H. pylori positive with peptic ulcer were obtained by endoscopy. Gene expressions of nine cytokines and CagA status were measured by qPCR.
Results: All cytokine genes showed higher expression levels in the presence of H. pylori when compared to H. pylori-negative samples (fold increase: IL8: x 11.2; IL12A: x 2.4; TNF-alpha: x 5.2; IFN-gamma: x 4.3; IL4: x 3.6; IL6: x 14.7; and IL10: x 6.7). Patients infected with CagA-positive strains had higher expression of IL1-beta and IL18 compared to patients infected with CagA-negative strains (x 1.6 for IL1-beta and x 2.0 for IL18). Patients with duodenal ulcer had a lower antral Th1/Th2 ratio than other H. pylori-positive patients.
Conclusions: The cytokine profile of H. pylori-infected gastric mucosa shows a mixed Th1-Th2 profile. Furthermore, a high IL10 expression may indicate that also regulatory T cells play a role in the chronic phase of H. pylori infection.