• Open Access

Detection of Helicobacter hepaticus in Human Bile Samples of Patients with Biliary Disease


Reprint requests to: Kenji Yokota, Faculty of Health Science, Okayama University, 2-5-1 Shikata-cho, 700-8558 Okayama, Japan. E-mail: yokochan@md.okayama-u.ac.jp


Background:  Since the discovery of Helicobacter pylori, various enterohepatic Helicobacter spices have been detected in the guts of humans and animals. Some enterohepatic Helicobacters have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease or liver disease in mice. However the association of these bacteria with human diseases remains unknown.

Materials and Methods:  We collected 126 bile samples from patients with cholelithiasis, cholecystitis, gallbladder polyp, and other nonbiliary diseases. Samples were screened for the presence of enterohepatic Helicobacter spp. using cultures, nested PCR, or in situ hybridization. We tested for antibodies to H. pylori and H. hepaticus by Western blot analysis.

Results:  Attempts at cultivation were unsuccessful. However, H. hepaticus was detected in bile samples with nested PCR whereas H. bilis was not. Helicobacter hepaticus in the bile was confirmed by in situ hybridization, but H. hepaticus from bile samples was coccoid in appearance. We detected immunoglobulin G antibodies to H. hepaticus in bile samples by Western blotting. Helicobacter hepaticus was detected in 40 (32%) of total 126 samples as H. hepaticus positive if at least one of the three methods with nested PCR, in situ, or Western blotting. Patients with cholelithiasis (41%) and cholecystitis with gastric cancer (36%) had significantly higher (p = .029) prevalence of H. hepaticus infection than samples from patients with other diseases.

Conclusion: Helicobacter hepaticus may closely associate with diseases of the liver and biliary tract in humans.