Tropism for Spasmolytic Polypeptide-Expressing Metaplasia Allows Helicobacter pylori to Expand Its Intragastric Niche

José B. Sáenz, Nancy Vargas, Jason C. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: In patients with chronic Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection, parietal and chief cell atrophy in the gastric corpus, a process known as spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia (SPEM), increases the risk for progression to cancer. The relation between H pylori and these metaplastic changes is unclear. We investigated whether H pylori localizes to regions of SPEM. Methods: We developed an in situ adherence assay in which we incubated H pylori with free-floating tissue sections from the gastric corpora of mice; we assessed H pylori distribution along the gastric unit by immunofluorescence. We analyzed the interactions of H pylori with tissue collected from mice with acute SPEM, induced by high-dose tamoxifen. We also evaluated how adhesin-deficient H pylori strains, chemical competition assays, and epithelial glycosylation affected H pylori adhesion to SPEM glands. Mice colonized with the mouse-adapted PMSS1 strain were analyzed for H pylori colonization in vivo during tamoxifen-induced SPEM or after decrease of stomach acid with omeprazole. Results: Compared with uninjured glands, H pylori penetrated deep within SPEM glands, in situ, through interaction of its adhesin, SabA, with sialyl-Lewis X, which expanded in SPEM. H pylori markedly increased gastric corpus colonization when SPEM was induced, but this proximal spread reversed in mice allowed to recover from SPEM. Decreasing corpus acidity also promoted proximal spread. However, H pylori penetrated deep within corpus glands in vivo only when sialyl-Lewis X expanded during SPEM. Conclusions: Helicobacter pylori differentially binds SPEM glands in situ and in mice, in large part by interacting with sialyl-Lewis X. Our findings indicate that H pylori expands its niche into the gastric corpus by promoting and exploiting epithelial metaplastic changes that can lead to tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-174.e7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Intestinal Metaplasia
  • Paligenosis
  • Patients
  • Stomach Cancer


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