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Summary

Background:  Biliary tract cancer is a highly fatal disease with poor prognosis, but the aetiology is poorly understood.

Aim:  We aimed to identify Helicobacter bilis infection in the gallbladder in patients with biliary tract disease.

Methods:  Archival gallbladder specimens from 34 patients (14 males and 20 females) with an average age of 61.4 ± 12.2 years (mean ± SE) were retrieved, consisting of 11 cases of gallbladder cancer, three of bile duct cancer, 16 of cholecystolithiasis and four of pancreatic cancer. DNA was extracted and nested PCR using primers specific for 16S rRNA of H. bilis was performed.

Results : Amplification was observed in 3 of 11 gallbladder cancer cases (27.2%) and one of three cases with biliary duct cancer (33.3%). In total, four of 14 cases with biliary tract cancer were positive for H. bilis (28.6%). In addition, the presence of H. bilis was shown in two of 16 cases (12.5%) with cholecystolithiasis. Notably, although the number of cases examined was small, none of the four cases with pancreatic cancer showed the presence of H. bilis infection in the gallbladder without apparent abnormalities.

Conclusion: H. bilis infection may play a role in biliary tract disease, particularly in biliary tract cancer.