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Serological Discrimination of Dogs Infected with Gastric Helicobacter spp. and Uninfected Dogs

  • Dalit Strauss-Ayali
  • Kenneth W. Simpson
  • Amy H. Schein
  • Patrick L. McDonough
  • Richard H. Jacobson
  • Beth A. Valentine
  • Jeff Peacock
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
May 01, 1999
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Characterization of the humoral immune responses of people to Helicobacter pylori infection has facilitated the investigation of the host response to bacterial virulence factors and the development of sensitive and specific diagnostic tests. Dogs are commonly infected with gastric Helicobacter spp., but the presence of multiple Helicobacter spp. and possible coinfection in individual dogs have complicated serological evaluation. Evaluation of the antigenic homology of Helicobacter spp. revealed that the major protein bands of Helicobacter felis and Helicobacter bizzozeronii, two Helicobacter spp. that infect dogs, were very similar to UreA (29 to 31 kDa), UreB (63 to 66 kDa), and HSP (58 to 60 kDa) of H. pylori, and sera from infected and uninfected dogs bound in a similar way to each antigen. Immunoblotting and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with H. felis ATCC 49179 antigen were performed with 101 serum samples (from 78 infected dogs and 23 uninfected dogs). Samples from uninfected dogs (median = 8) had fewer bands on immunoblotting than samples from infected dogs (median = 16) (P < 0.05). Combinations of the presence of any two of the low-molecular-mass bands (19, 25, 30, 32, and 37 kDa) or the high-molecular-mass bands (86 and 94 kDa) were found almost solely in samples from infected dogs (P < 0.0001). Kinetic ELISA results were significantly higher for samples from infected dogs (median = 0.0802 optical density unit [OD]/min) than for samples from uninfected dogs (median = 0.01428 OD/min). The combination of ELISA and immunoblotting results gave a specificity of 95.6% and a sensitivity of 79.8%. No correlation between ELISA results, colonization density, degree of inflammation, and presence of lymphoid follicles was observed. The results indicate substantial antigenic homology between H. felis, H. pylori, and H. bizzozeronii. The combination of ELISA and immunoblotting was a highly specific and moderately sensitive indicator of infection. The degree of seropositivity assessed by ELISA was not related to bacterial colonization density, the degree of gastric inflammation, or the presence of lymphoid follicles.

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