Host pathogen interactions in Helicobacter pylori related gastric cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2017 Mar 7;23(9):1521-1540. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i9.1521.


Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), discovered in 1982, is a microaerophilic, spiral-shaped gram-negative bacterium that is able to colonize the human stomach. Nearly half of the world's population is infected by this pathogen. Its ability to induce gastritis, peptic ulcers, gastric cancer and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma has been confirmed. The susceptibility of an individual to these clinical outcomes is multifactorial and depends on H. pylori virulence, environmental factors, the genetic susceptibility of the host and the reactivity of the host immune system. Despite the host immune response, H. pylori infection can be difficult to eradicate. H. pylori is categorized as a group I carcinogen since this bacterium is responsible for the highest rate of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Early detection of cancer can be lifesaving. The 5-year survival rate for gastric cancer patients diagnosed in the early stages is nearly 90%. Gastric cancer is asymptomatic in the early stages but always progresses over time and begins to cause symptoms when untreated. In 97% of stomach cancer cases, cancer cells metastasize to other organs. H. pylori infection is responsible for nearly 60% of the intestinal-type gastric cancer cases but also influences the development of diffuse gastric cancer. The host genetic susceptibility depends on polymorphisms of genes involved in H. pylori-related inflammation and the cytokine response of gastric epithelial and immune cells. H. pylori strains differ in their ability to induce a deleterious inflammatory response. H. pylori-driven cytokines accelerate the inflammatory response and promote malignancy. Chronic H. pylori infection induces genetic instability in gastric epithelial cells and affects the DNA damage repair systems. Therefore, H. pylori infection should always be considered a pro-cancerous factor.

Keywords: Bacterial diversity; Carcinogenesis; Helicobacter pylori; Host susceptibility.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Gastritis / microbiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications*
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Inflammation
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • Stomach / microbiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / complications*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • VacA protein, Helicobacter pylori
  • Virulence Factors
  • cagA protein, Helicobacter pylori