Helicobacter mustelae, the gastric pathogen of ferrets, produces an array of surface ring structures which have not been described for any other member of the genus Helicobacter, including H. pylori. The unique ring structures are composed of a protein named Hsr. To investigate whether the Hsr rings are important for colonization of the ferret stomach, ferrets specific pathogen free for H. mustelae were inoculated with an Hsr-deficient mutant strain or the wild-type H. mustelae strain. Quantitative cultures from antral biopsy specimens obtained at 3, 6, and 9 weeks postinoculation demonstrated no significant difference in the levels of bacteria in the ferrets that received the Hsr-negative strain and the ferrets infected with the parent strain. However, when the ferrets were biopsied at 12 and 15 weeks and necropsied at 18 weeks after infection, the levels of bacteria of the Hsr-negative strain in the stomach antrum were significantly reduced. This decline contrasted the robust antral colonization by the wild-type strain. The Hsr-negative strain did not efficiently colonize the gastric body of the study ferrets. Histological examination at 18 weeks postinoculation revealed minimal gastric inflammation in the animals that received the mutant H. mustelae strain, a finding consistent with its waning infection status, whereas lesions characteristic of helicobacter infection were present in ferrets infected with the wild-type strain. Scant colonization by the Hsr-negative H. mustelae strain at the end of the 18-week study, despite initial successful colonization, indicates an inability of the mutant to persist, perhaps due to a specific host response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases