Background & aims: Helicobacter infection of the gastric antrum is responsible for a number of gastric disorders. Antibiotic therapy is lengthy and is not always effective. It has been shown previously that oral immunization against Helicobacter felis in mice can prevent colonization after challenge. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of therapeutic immunization in eradicating an established Helicobacter infection and in reducing gastritis.
Methods: Domestic ferrets, confirmed to be infected with Helicobacter mustelae by gastric endoscopy, were orally immunized with varying doses of purified Helicobacter pylori urease in combination with the mucosal adjuvant cholera toxin. Ferrets were assessed 1 week and 6 weeks after treatment for infection and pathology.
Results: Therapeutic immunization eradicated Helicobacter colonization in 30% of all immunized ferrets, although there was no difference in efficacy between the varying doses of antigen tested. The difference was statistically significant when compared with animals administered cholera toxin alone or buffer (P = 0.04). The intensity of inflammation was also significantly reduced in immunized animals (P = 0.0003).
Conclusions: Oral immunization with purified H. pylori urease and cholera toxin can eradicate H. mustelae in a natural host pathogen model. Oral immunization of chronically infected animals markedly reduced gastric inflammation.