Immunoblot Analysis as an Alternative Method to Diagnose EnterohepaticHelicobacterInfections

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Enterohepatic Helicobacter species have been associated with chronic infections of the hepatobiliary tract and lower bowel in naturally and experimentally infected mice, Helicobacter-infected animals should thus not be used in studies of diseases associated with chronic inflammation. Helicobacter species induce inflammation and modulate host immune responses, thus emphasizing the need to diagnose these infections in laboratory animals.

Materials and Methods:

An immunoblot assay was developed to analyze antibodies to enterohepatic Helicobacter species in naturally colonized laboratory mouse colonies. We evaluated the serum antibody responses to cell surface proteins of H. bilis, H. hepaticus, and H. ganmani in 188 mouse sera from four different university animal facilities. Lower bowel tissue specimens from 56 of these animals were available and analyzed by polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) and the results compared with matched immunoblot patterns.


Specific antibody reactivity to H. bilis was detected in 8 of 186 (4.3%) sera, to H. hepaticus in 45 of 184 (24%) sera, and to H. ganmani in 51 of 188 (27%) of tested sera. These results were compared with PCR-DGGE analyses of tissue samples of corresponding animals, and concordance between the two diagnostic tests was found in 96% for H. bilis, in 91% for H. hepaticus, and in 82% for H. ganmani. The PCR-DGGE also detected DNA of H. typhlonius, H. sp. flexispira, and H. rodentium.


Infection with enterohepatic species was common in the laboratory mouse colonies tested, independent of strain and stock. Immunoblot analysis seems to be a promising diagnostic tool to monitor enterohepatic Helicobacter species infections of laboratory rodents.

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