Two virulence factors of Helicobacter pylori, cagA and vacA, have been known to play a role in the development of severe gastric symptoms. However, they are not always associated with peptic ulcer or gastric cancer. To predict the disease outcome more accurately, it is necessary to understand the risk of severe symptoms linked to other virulence factors. Several other virulence factors of H. pylori have also been reported to be associated with disease outcomes, although there are many controversial descriptions. H. pylori isolates from Koreans may be useful in evaluating the relevance of other virulence factors to clinical symptoms of gastric diseases because the majority of Koreans are infected by toxigenic strains of H. pylori bearing cagA and vacA. In this study, a total of 116 H. pylori strains from Korean patients with chronic gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancers were genotyped. The presence of virulence factors vacAs1c, alpA, babA2, hopZ, and the extremely strong vacuolating toxin was found to contribute significantly to the development of severe gastric symptoms. The genotype combination vacAs1c/alpA/babA2 was the most predictable determinant for the development of severe symptoms, and the presence of babA2 was found to be the most critical factor. This study provides important information on the virulence factors that contribute to the development of severe gastric symptoms and will assist in predicting clinical disease outcomes due to H. pylori infection.
Keywords: Helicobacter pylori; alpA; babA2; gastric diseases; hopZ; vacAs1c.