Helicobacter pylori-specific tumour-infiltrating T cells provide contact dependent help for the growth of malignant B cells in low-grade gastric lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue

J Pathol. 1996 Feb;178(2):122-7. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199602)178:2<122::AID-PATH486>3.0.CO;2-D.


Previous studies have shown that tumour cells from low-grade B-cell gastric lymphomas of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) type proliferate in vitro in response to heat-killed whole cell preparations of Helicobacter pylori, but only in the presence of tumour-infiltrating T cells. This response is strain-specific in that the tumours studied responded optimally to different strains of H. pylori. It was unclear from these studies, however, whether the ability to recognize the specific stimulating strains of H. pylori was a property of the tumour cells or the tumour-infiltrating T cells. This study shows that whereas the tumour cells do not respond to H. pylori, both freshly isolated tumour-infiltrating T cells and a T cell line derived from these cells proliferate in response to stimulating strains of H. pylori. T cells from the spleen of one of the patients do not share this property. These results suggest that B-cell proliferation in cases of low-grade gastric lymphoma of MALT type in vitro in response to H. pylori is due to recognition of H. pylori by tumour-infiltrating T cells, which in turn provide help for tumour cell proliferation. The observations provide an explanation for properties of gastric MALT-type lymphoma, such as regression following eradication of H. pylori and the tendency of the tumour to remain localized to the primary site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / classification
  • Helicobacter pylori / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / immunology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / microbiology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / pathology*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Species Specificity
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / immunology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial