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Host-environment interactions: their impact on progression from gastric inflammation to carcinogenesis and on development of new approaches to prevent and treat gastric cancer.

Revelation of the connection between Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric adenocarcinoma has prompted new investigations pertaining to its basic and clinical aspects. H. pylori-induced persistent and uncontrolled gastric inflammation nearly always precedes the development of cancer and is instrumental in initiating a multistep process leading to carcinogenesis. Despite initial optimism about the potential of combination anti-H. pylori therapy to ultimately eradicate gastric adenocarcinoma, recent investigations suggest its use should be targeted and tailored to a selected patient group considering the multifaceted role of H. pylori in disease and the disease heterogeneity of gastric adenocarcinoma. The clinical spectrum of H. pylori infection ranges from asymptomatic gastritis and peptic ulcer to gastric malignancies. The occurrence of one versus another is the result of differences in the magnitude of gastritis, and the current disease paradigm suggests gastric inflammation is common to all H. pylori-associated gastroduodenal diseases. Therefore, the host inflammatory responses to environmental triggers, rather than to bacteria or environmental factors per se, would dictate the variable outcomes of H. pylori infection. Putative factors that are expected to play an important role in stimulating inflammatory pathways and modulating the cross-talk between host and environment are age at the time of infection, environmental cofactors, H. pylori virulence, and host genetics. Elucidation of the intimate relationship between host-environment interaction and gastric inflammation, although currently a formidable task, is essential in the development of new prevention and treatment strategies. Such knowledge might provide clues that allow more accurate prediction of variable outcomes of gastric inflammation and appropriate adjustment of treatment strategies, and might open up novel areas for studying gastric carcinogenesis. The evolving new technologies, such as microarray, proteomic, and functional genomic analyses, promise to shed new light on the immense complexity of the presumed host-environment interactions and will reveal more useful markers for the diagnosis and prognosis of gastric adenocarcinoma.

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