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World J Gastroenterol. Aug 21, 2018; 24(31): 3472-3487
Published online Aug 21, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i31.3472
Helicobacter pylori: A foodborne pathogen?
Nicoletta C Quaglia, Angela Dambrosio
Nicoletta C Quaglia, Angela Dambrosio, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Section of Veterinary Clinic and Animal Production, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Valenzano 70010, Italy
Author contributions: All authors contributed equally to this paper in the conception and design of the study, literature review and analysis, drafting, critical revision and editing of the manuscript, and approval of the final version.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest. No financial support.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Nicoletta C Quaglia, MDV, PhD, Professor, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Section of Veterinary Clinic and Animal Production, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Strada Prov.le per Casamassima, Km 3, Valenzano 70010, Italy.
Telephone: +39-080-5443849 Fax: +39-080-5443849
Received: May 2, 2018
Peer-review started: May 4, 2018
First decision: May 17, 2018
Revised: June 19, 2018
Accepted: June 27, 2018
Article in press: June 27, 2018
Published online: August 21, 2018

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is an organism that is widespread in the human population and is sometimes responsible for some of the most common chronic clinical disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract in humans, such as chronic-active gastritis, duodenal and gastric ulcer disease, low-grade B-cell mucosa associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma of the stomach, and gastric adenocarcinoma, which is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The routes of infection have not yet been firmly established, and different routes of transmission have been suggested, although the most commonly accepted hypothesis is that infection takes place through the faecal-oral route and that contaminated water and foods might play an important role in transmission of the microorganism to humans. Furthermore, several authors have considered H. pylori to be a foodborne pathogen because of some of its microbiological and epidemiological characteristics. H. pylori has been detected in drinking water, seawater, vegetables and foods of animal origin. H. pylori survives in complex foodstuffs such as milk, vegetables and ready-to-eat foods. This review article presents an overview of the present knowledge on the microbiological aspects in terms of phenotypic characteristics and growth requirements of H. pylori, focusing on the potential role that foodstuffs and water may play in the transmission of the pathogen to humans and the methods successfully used for the detection of this microorganism in foodstuffs and water.

Keywords: Helicobacter pylori, Viable but nonculturable state, Foodborne pathogen, Food, Water, Animal reservoirs, Culture methods, Molecular methods

Core tip: To date, the transmission routes and reservoirs of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are topics of debate. Epidemiological evidence and the occurrence of H. pylori in foods of animal origin, vegetables and water corroborate the hypothesis advanced by numerous authors that H. pylori may be a foodborne pathogen. The present review is focused on the evidence supporting the role of foods and water in the transmission of H. pylori to humans and on the methods for detecting the pathogen in foodstuffs and water.