Background: Though a few studies in animal models suggest that intestinal helminths (IH) favorably affect evolution of gastritis associated with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) the studies supporting this concept in humans are only a few and are based on serological data.
Methods: To evaluate the possible influence of IH on the human gastric mucosa, three groups of Venezuelan adults with gastropathy (endoscopically diagnosed) were studied: H. pylori-/IH- (n = 17), H. pylori+/IH- (n = 18), and H. pylori+/IH+ (n = 11). Histological analysis (hematoxylin-eosin) and immunohistochemical staining (peroxidase) for cytokines interleukin-1beta (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), gamma interferon (IFN-γ), and interleukin 4 (IL-4) were undertaken in gastric antral biopsies.
Results: Expression of the four cytokines was detected in all individuals in varying degrees, but proinflammatory cytokines were expressed in a higher degree in the H. pylori+/IH- group, mainly IL-1β (Th1-dominant immune response), associated with a higher degree of both histological inflammation and gastric cancer risk index (GCRI), as compared to the H. pylori-/IH- group. In contrast, an increased expression of IL-4 and a reduced expression of proinflammatory cytokines (Th2-dominant response), plus the tendency to a lower degree of mononuclear infiltration, mucosal atrophy in gastric corpus, and GCRI, were evidenced in the coinfected group.
Conclusions: The findings of the present study is perhaps the first histological evidence of a possible modulatory effect of IH on the gastric mucosal inflammatory response due to H. pylori infection in humans.
Keywords: Cytokine; Gastric cancer; Gastropathy; Immune response; Immunohistochemical staining; Interleukins.