Background/aims: There is no generally accepted model for Helicobacter pylori infection in humans. The aim of this study was to examine the natural history and effect of treatment in rhesus monkeys and sequentially define the immune response to H. pylori in relation to treatment.
Methods: Infection and gastritis were graded blindly by histological analysis and culture of biopsy specimens harvested during gastroduodenoscopies in 26 anesthetized colony-bred monkeys. Plasma H. pylori-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: H. pylori and Gastrospirilum hominis-like organisms were present in 13 and 9 monkeys, respectively; 3 animals harbored both organisms, whereas 4 monkeys were not infected. Gastritis score was < or = 1.5 in animals uninfected or infected only with G. hominis-like organisms and > or = 2.0 in all H. pylori-infected animals. IgG ratios were > or = 0.5 in 12 of 13 H. pylori-infected animals and in 2 of 13 H. pylori-negative animals (P < 0.001). One monkey became infected with H. pylori during the observation period, with concurrent increase of gastritis and plasma IgG levels. In untreated animals, infection, gastritis, and plasma IgG levels remained unchanged over 7-15 months. Triple therapy eradicated H. pylori at 6 months in 4 of 6 animals while suppressing gastritis and plasma IgG levels.
Conclusions: Rhesus monkeys harboring H. pylori are persistently infected and have gastritis and elevated specific IgG levels, all of which may respond to appropriate therapy, whereas G. hominis infection is associated with little inflammation.