Molecular testing for Helicobacter pylori is used for the laboratory diagnosis of chronic and acute bacterial infections in patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Helicobacter pylori colonizes and infects the stomach mucosa, causing gastritis, duodenal ulcer, and sometimes stomach ulcer. Chronic atrophic gastritis can lead to gastric adenocarcinoma.
Helicobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped, Gram-negative microbe, with 4-6 flagella on one pole. Pathogenic factors of the microbe include its intense mobility, adhesion to the surface of stomach epithelial cells, the urease enzyme that releases ammonia from urea (thus alkalizing the environment to facilitate the survival of microorganisms in an extremely acidic environment), and VacA vacuolating toxin that destroys epithelial cells.
When the microorganism invades the stomach tissues it results in acute gastritis, the course of which may or may not include the appearance of symptoms. Helicobacter pylori infection can result in:
- Mild chronic gastritis that can last for years or even decades and is often asymptomatic
- Duodenal ulcer and sometimes stomach ulcer
- Chronic atrophic gastritis from which gastric adenocarcinoma can sometimes develop
- Rarely, MALTomas, B-cell lymphomas of the gastric mucosa
Helicobacter pylori has a worldwide spread. Infection begins in childhood and can reach 100% of the adult population in areas with poor hygiene. The incidence of infection reaches approximately 50% among adults in western societies, but microbial infection does not necessarily lead to disease. Helicobacter pylori only affects humans and is transmitted through the fecal-oral route.
- Circulating antibodies against Helicobacter pylori are predominantly of the IgG class. The measurement of IgG antibodies is most useful for monitoring treatment.
- The presence of specific IgAs is usually less pronounced but indicates more severe inflammation. Some patients only develop IgA antibodies.
- Specific IgM antibodies against Helicobacter pylori are rare and appear to be of secondary importance.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.