January 17, 2022

H. pylori, lipid loss and stomach cancer

H. pylori infection — a strong risk factor for stomach cancer — changes the composition of stomach lipids, which could offer new biomarkers for detecting premalignant changes, Vanderbilt researchers discovered.

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori colonizes the stomach in half of the world’s population and is a strong risk factor for gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease. The molecular changes that lead to the development of stomach cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death worldwide, are not well understood. 

Aung Soe Lin, PhD, Jennifer Shuman, Timothy Cover, MD, and colleagues used two mass spectrometry techniques to analyze the abundance and spatial distribution of stomach lipids in an animal model of H. pylori infection. They found alterations in stomach lipid composition in infected compared to uninfected animals. They showed that 16 lipids that were localized in the gastric corpus in uninfected animals were reduced in infected animals exhibiting premalignant changes or gastric cancer. 

The findings, published in the journal mSphere, suggest that H. pylori-induced lipid alterations may have functional consequences relevant to the development of stomach cancer and might serve as useful biomarkers to detect premalignant changes.

Other authors of the mSphere study include Ankita Kotnala, Jeff Shaw, Amber Beckett, Jennifer Harvey, Michael Tuck, Beverly Dixon, Michelle Reyzer, Holly Algood, Kevin Schey, and M. Blanca Piazuelo. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants CA116087, AI039657, AI118932, AI007474, AI007281) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.