Helicobacter pylori eradication: Novel therapy for immune thrombocytopenic purpura? A review of the literature



Eradication of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori  ) from the gastric mucosa has been associated with improvement of several systemic diseases, including immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Over the last 5 years, several studies have reported improved platelet counts in H. pylori-positive ITP patients following standard triple H. pylori eradication therapy. Review of published studies in which eradication of H. pylori has been performed in the ITP population indicates an overall response rate of 52% in 193 subjects in whom H. pylori was eradicated. Cohorts from Japan and Italy report higher response rates. There is no established mechanism to explain how this organism, which does not invade the gastric mucosa, could be implicated in the pathogenesis of this immune-based platelet disorder. Several theories including molecular mimicry, platelet aggregation, and immunomodulatory effects of macrolides have been proposed to explain the platelet response to anti-H. pylori therapy. Large randomized-controlled studies enrolling patients from various ethnic backgrounds will be necessary to determine the response rate and mechanism of response and to gain a better understanding of the pathogenesis of ITP. Am. J. Hematol. 78:142–150, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.