Helicobacter pylori and gastric acid: biological and therapeutic implications

Gastroenterology. 1996 Mar;110(3):926-38. doi: 10.1053/gast.1996.v110.pm8608904.


Helicobacter pylori is highly adapted to its unusual ecological niche in the human stomach. Urease activity permits H. pylori survival at a pH of <4 in vitro and is required for the organism to colonize in animal models. However, urease does not play an important role in the survival of the organism in a pH range between 4 and 7. Other mechanisms of pH homeostasis remain poorly understood, but preliminary studies indicate that novel proteins are produced when H.pylori cells are shifted from pH 7 to 3, and the gene encoding a P-type adenosine triphosphatase that may catalyze NH4+/H+ exchange across the cytoplasmic membrane has been cloned. Mechanisms of pH homeostasis in other enteric bacteria are reviewed and provide insight into additional pathways that may be used by H. pylori. An important adaptation of H. pylori to the gastric environment may be its ability to alter gastric acid secretion. Acute infection is associated with transient hypochlorhydria, whereas chronic infection is associated with hypergastrinemia and decreased somatostatin levels. Thus, the survival of H. pylori in the gastric environment may be attributed to both the development of specialized intrinsic defenses and the organism's ability to induce physiological alterations in the host environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Duodenal Ulcer / drug therapy
  • Duodenal Ulcer / etiology
  • Enterococcus faecalis / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Gastric Acid / metabolism*
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / microbiology
  • Gastrins / metabolism
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections / metabolism
  • Helicobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Helicobacter pylori / enzymology
  • Helicobacter pylori / growth & development*
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Salmonella / metabolism
  • Somatostatin / metabolism
  • Urease / physiology


  • Gastrins
  • Somatostatin
  • Urease