Background: Infection with Helicobacter pylori possessing a newly described virulence factor--duodenal ulcer-promoting gene A (dupA)--has been associated with duodenal ulceration and increased gastric inflammation.
Methods: The dupA locus of 34 strains was sequenced. A panel of dupA mutants was generated and cocultured with human gastric epithelial cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells; proinflammatory cytokine release was measured. IL8 expression was measured in human gastric biopsy specimens and related to the dupA and cagA status of infecting strains.
Results: Most H. pylori strains had a dupA allele that was longer (1884 bp; dupA1) than previously described dupA alleles, although some had truncated versions (dupA2). Unlike the best-characterized H. pylori virulence determinant, the cag pathogenicity island (cag PaI), neither dupA type induced release of interleukin (IL)-8 from gastric epithelial cells. However, infections due to dupA-positive strains were associated with higher-level mucosal IL-8 messenger RNA expression in the human stomach than were infections due to dupA-negative strains. To explain this paradox, we found that dupA1 (but not dupA2 or the cag PaI) substantially increased H. pylori-induced IL-12p40 and IL-12p70 production from CD14(+) mononuclear cells. Other T helper 1-associated cytokines were also modestly induced.
Conclusion: We suggest that virulent H. pylori strains cause inflammation by stimulating epithelial cells through cag-encoded proteins and mononuclear inflammatory cells through dupA1 products.