Background & aims: The majority of patients with Helicobacter pylori infection have autoantibodies cross-reacting with gastric antigens. In this study, the relation between autoantibody status, histopathology of body mucosa, and antigenic profile of H. pylori was investigated.
Methods: One hundred patients were examined for H. pylori infection, body gastritis, and gastric autoantibodies. Balb/c mice were analyzed for serum autoantibodies after immunization with H. pylori from patients with and without atrophic gastritis.
Results: Immunoglobulin G autoantibodies were detected in 57 of the 87 infected patients (65.5%) but in none of the 13 patients without infection and gastritis. The autoreaction involved mainly the luminal surface of glandular cells and secretory canaliculi of parietal cells. The autoantibody status correlated with the presence and degree of inflammation and atrophy of the glands. H. pylori from patients with atrophic gastritis showed a higher capacity to induce autoantibodies than H. pylori from patients with a minimal superficial gastritis. Monoclonal antibodies showed differences in the bacterial expression of cross-reacting determinants.
Conclusions: H. pylori-mediated autoimmunity is involved in the pathogenesis of chronic atrophic gastritis. The grade of antigenic mimicry of the infecting H. pylori strain plays a role in the progression of chronic gastritis to atrophy.