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Summary

Background : Helicobacter has been identified in isolated cases of hepato-biliary diseases, but its role in the pathogenesis of these conditions remains unclear.

Aim : To determine whether Helicobacter could be detected in bile obtained at endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, and to evaluate the prevalence of this infection in patients with hepato-biliary diseases.

Methods : Bile was collected from 125 patients with various hepato-biliary diseases undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Among them, 75 were diagnosed with biliary stones, 15 with pancreatico-biliary malignancies and four with primary sclerosing cholangitis. The detection of Helicobacter in DNA extracted from these bile samples was performed using Helicobacter genus-specific primers (capable of detecting 100–1000 organisms/mL).

Results : Helicobacter was detected in all positive controls. Only three samples had polymerase chain reaction inhibitors. All remaining bile samples (122 patients with hepato-biliary diseases) were negative for Helicobacter DNA.

Conclusions : Helicobacter can be detected in bile samples using polymerase chain reaction. This infection, however, was not present in any of our patients diagnosed with gallstones or hepato-biliary malignancies, raising doubt as to the possible association between Helicobacter and these entities. Given the low sample size of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis, more studies are required to determine whether an association exists with this condition.