Helicobacter pylori (HP) is a Gram-negative, helix-shaped, microaerophilic bacterium that belongs to the family Helicobacteraceae, genus Helicobacter. It is usually found in the stomach. In 1982 Australian scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren first identified Helicobacter pylori in a patient with chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers, which is a condition believed not to have a microbial cause before. Pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori depends on the fact that it can survive in the harsh gastric environment. This environment is thought to be an impossible zone for bacterium before, as it is characterized by peristalsis, acidity, and attack by phagocytes and released reactive oxygen species. It also plays a role in the development of stomach cancer and duodenal ulcers. More than half of the world's population harbor this bacterium in their upper gastrointestinal tract. But nearly 85% of them never experience any symptoms or complications. Individuals who were infected with Helicobacter pylori have a risk of developing peptic ulcers by 10% to 20%, and acquiring stomach cancer by about 1% to 2%.
Helicobacter pylori is a helix-shaped bacterium with a length of about 3 μm and a diameter of about 0.5 μm. It is microaerophilic, which means that it requires oxygen but at a lower concentration than that of the atmosphere. Helicobacter pylori consists of a large amount of strains with relatively large difference in their genomes. Its genome contains about 1.7 million base pairs, which encode more than 1500 genes. Helicobacter pylori possesses five major outer membrane protein (OMP) families, including porins, iron transporters, flagellum-associated proteins, known and putative adhesins and proteins of unidentified function. OMP of Helicobacter pylori contains lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and phospholipids, as well as other typical Gram-negative bacteria.
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