Effect and mechanism of Qingre Huashi decoction on drug-resistant Helicobacter pylori

World J Gastroenterol. 2024 Jun 28;30(24):3086-3105. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v30.i24.3086.


Background: Helicobacter pylori (HP), the most common pathogenic microorganism in the stomach, can induce inflammatory reactions in the gastric mucosa, causing chronic gastritis and even gastric cancer. HP infection affects over 4.4 billion people globally, with a worldwide infection rate of up to 50%. The multidrug resistance of HP poses a serious challenge to eradication. It has been de-monstrated that compared to bismuth quadruple therapy, Qingre Huashi decoction (QHD) combined with triple therapy exhibits comparable eradication rates but with a lower incidence of adverse reactions; in addition, QHD can directly inhibit and kill HP in vitro.

Aim: To explore the effect and mechanism of QHD on clinically multidrug-resistant and strong biofilm-forming HP.

Methods: In this study, 12 HP strains were isolated in vitro after biopsy during gastroscopy of HP-infected patients. In vitro, the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values for clinical HP strains and biofilm quantification were determined through the E-test method and crystal violet staining, respectively. The most robust biofilm-forming strain of HP was selected, and QHD was evaluated for its inhibitory and bactericidal effects on the strain with strong biofilm formation. This assessment was performed using agar dilution, E-test, killing dynamics, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The study also explored the impact of QHD on antibiotic resistance in these HP strains with strong biofilm formation. Crystalline violet method, scanning electron microscopy, laser confocal scanning microscopy, and (p)ppGpp chromatographic identification were employed to evaluate the effect of QHD on biofilm in strong biofilm-forming HP strains. The effect of QHD on biofilm and efflux pump-related gene expression was evaluated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Non-targeted metabolomics with UHPLC-MS/MS was used to identify potential metabolic pathways and biomarkers which were different between the NC and QHD groups.

Results: HP could form biofilms of different degrees in vitro, and the intensity of formation was associated with the drug resistance of the strain. QHD had strong bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects on HP, with MICs of 32-64 mg/mL. QHD could inhibit the biofilm formation of the strong biofilm-forming HP strains, disrupt the biofilm structure, lower the accumulation of (p)ppGpp, decrease the expression of biofilm-related genes including LuxS, Spot, glup (HP1174), NapA, and CagE, and reduce the expression of efflux pump-related genes such as HP0605, HP0971, HP1327, and HP1489. Based on metabolomic analysis, QHD induced oxidative stress in HP, enhanced metabolism, and potentially inhibited relevant signaling pathways by upregulating adenosine monophosphate (AMP), thereby affecting HP growth, metabolism, and protein synthesis.

Conclusion: QHD exerts bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects on HP, and reduces HP drug resistance by inhibiting HP biofilm formation, destroying its biofilm structure, inhibiting the expression of biofilm-related genes and efflux pump-related genes, enhancing HP metabolism, and activating AMP in HP.

Keywords: Biofilm; Drug resistance; Helicobacter pylori; Metabolomics; Qingre Huashi decoction.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Biofilms* / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / pharmacology
  • Gastroscopy
  • Helicobacter Infections* / drug therapy
  • Helicobacter Infections* / microbiology
  • Helicobacter pylori* / drug effects
  • Helicobacter pylori* / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests*


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents