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Helicobacter pylori infection does not reduce the viscosity of human gastric mucus gel.
  1. D C Markesich,
  2. B S Anand,
  3. G M Lew,
  4. D Y Graham
  1. Department of Medicine, Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


    The mechanism by which Helicobacter pylori undermines host defence mechanisms is unclear. Several in vitro studies using soluble mucins have suggested that H pylori may compromise mucus function. Gastric mucus gel was obtained from 13 H pylori infected patients; six untreated subjects and seven after eradication of the infection. Gastric mucus is a non-Newtonian substance in that its viscosity changes with changing rates of shear, requiring mucus viscosity to be measured in a rotational cone-plate microviscometer. Viscosity was measured at shear rates varying from 1.15 s-1 to 46 s-1. The gastric mucus viscosity was significantly higher in patients infected with H pylori compared with mucus gel obtained after eradication of the infection. The results of our study suggest that the previous studies using in vitro methods involving soluble mucins or its components may have lead to erroneous conclusions about the in vivo interactions of H pylori and gastric mucus gel. The present findings argue against the hypothesis that degradation of gastric mucus by H pylori is important in the pathogenesis of peptic ulcer.

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