• Helicobacter pylori;
  • experimental infection;
  • transmission;
  • animal model

An experimental murine model was used to evaluate the possible animal-to-animal transmission of Helicobacter pylori and the mechanism involved. Twenty-four Balb/C mice were infected with H. pylori type I strain culture and kept with 24 noninoculated mice to evaluate the possible transmission of the microorganism. Twelve inoculated mice were housed with 12 noninoculated mice in a grated cage (supporting an oral-oral transmission); the remaining inoculated and noninoculated mice were housed in another cage without grating on the floor (supporting a faecal-oral transmission). The bacterial colonization was assessed by culture and immunohistochemistry. The systemic antibody response to H. pylori and the histopathological changes were evaluated; controls were examined at 2, 4, 8, 12 weeks after the start of the experiment. Faecal samples were also collected from each mouse on the day before sacrifice, to assess the presence of H. pylori by culture and by immunohistochemistry. In the gastric mucosa of inoculated mice, histopathological changes were recorded at each control time and H. pylori was detected both by immunohistochemistry and by a systemic antibody response; the microorganism was also cultured at 2, 4, 8 weeks postinoculation. H. pylori was detected in noninoculated mice, housed in the cage without grating, using an immunoperoxidase technique at 2, 4, 8 weeks after starting the experiment, and these positive values were supported by histopathological changes, and, in one case, at 8 weeks, also by the serum immune response. No colonies of H. pylori were detected by culturing faecal samples from either noninoculated or inoculated mice. The results obtained in this study seem to support an oral-faecal route as the mode of transmission of H. pylori infection in this animal model.