Helicobacter pylori induces gastritis and intestinal metaplasia but no gastric adenocarcinoma in Mongolian gerbils

Anders Elfvin, Ingrid Bölin, Charlotte Von Bothmer, Manfred Stolte, Hidenobu Watanabe, Lars Fändriks, Michael Vieth
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 2005, 40 (11): 1313-20

OBJECTIVE: The Mongolian gerbil is considered as the model of choice when studying adenocarcinoma related to Helicobacter pylori infection. The purpose of this study was to compare two different H. pylori strains and elucidate whether adenocarcinomas developed in gerbils.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Male gerbils were separated into three groups: one control and two groups infected with two different strains of H. pylori, TN2GF4 and SS1. At 3, 6, 12 or 18 months after inoculation 5 animals from each group were sacrificed. The stomach was used for culture, and for histology.

RESULTS: Inflammation was seen after 3 months in all the infected animals. In the controls no pathology was found at any time. Intestinal metaplasia was found in both the infected groups. Glands buried in the submucusal layer, changes that might be misinterpreted as adenocarcinoma, were found in 10% of the SS1 and in 65% of the TN2GF4 animals. Adenocarcinoma was not found in any of the gerbils.

CONCLUSIONS: All studies claiming to have found H. pylori-induced adenocarcinomas in gerbils describe atypical glands penetrating into the muscularis propria and interpret these as invasive growths due to cancer. An alternative interpretation is that the deranged glandular structures grow in and below the submucosa. It is suggested that atypical glands in the muscularis layer are not enough as a diagnostic criterion for gastric adenocarcinoma. It is concluded that adenocarcinoma has not yet been shown convincingly to develop in Mongolian gerbils infected with H. pylori. Nevertheless, it is a model well suited for studying gastritis, gastric ulcer and premalignant changes such as metaplasia.

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