Helicobacter pylori infection, host genetics and gastric cancer

Anne-Marie Shanks, Emad M El-Omar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Helicobacter pylori infects half the world's population and is responsible for a considerable global health burden, including peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. The infection causes a chronic gastritis, the severity and distribution of which determine the clinical outcome. Bacterial, environmental and host genetic factors combine to define the degree of gastric damage. Most patients have a limited mild pan-gastritis with no significant clinical consequences. Antral-predominant gastritis is associated with high gastric acid output and an increased risk of duodenal ulcers. Corpus-predominant gastritis is associated with a reduction in gastric acid, multifocal gastric atrophy and an increased risk of gastric cancer. Host genetic factors are particularly important in defining the severity and extent of Helicobacter-induced gastritis. The most relevant and consistent genetic factors uncovered thus far are in the interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor-A gene clusters. These cytokines appear to play a key role in the pathophysiology of gastric cancer and their roles have been confirmed in animal models that mimic human gastric neoplasia. More genetic factors have also been uncovered and, with advancing technology, there is every prospect of defining a full genetic risk profile in the next decade. This will aid in targeting the testing and treatment of Helicobacter pylori, which offers a true opportunity to prevent and defeat this global killer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Digestive Diseases
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • gastritis
  • helicobacter infections
  • helicobacter pylori
  • humans
  • interleukin-1
  • multigene family
  • peptic ulcer
  • polymorphism, single nucleotide
  • tumor necrosis factor-alpha
  • virulence factors


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