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Name: Kay
Status: Other
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

I am curious to know if there has been research on a connection with H. pylori and multiple sclerosis?. I read something about H. pylori can have an effect on the immune system.

Dear Kay,

H. pylori is a bacterium that colonizes the stomach. Up to 80% of people are infected (depending on age and country) and infection is life-long, unless treated with a severe course of antibiotics. Most infections occur without symptoms. In some cases, gastric ulcers occur. In even fewer cases, gastric cancer can be the result.

There are different type of H. pylori bacteria, and some are recognized to never give rise to ulcers. The bacteria have evolved to fit the ecological niche of the human stomach very well, and in doing so they seem to have adapted so as to minimalize damage to their host, so that they can survive and multiply 'undisturbed'. Outside the human body they can not survive long, and cannot multiply.

The human immune system recognizes the bacteria and tries to remove them, without success. It is therefore no big surprise that many immunological disorders are thought to connect somehow to H. pylori infection: the immune system is constantly at the alert because of the presence of the bug. However, any study has the difficulty that so many people are infected: you have to design your control group carefully to draw the right conclusions.

I checked the literature for you. There are some case reports of a relation between H. pylori infection and systemic sclerosis (but not multiple sclerosis), however there is a need for a large, double-blind study with proper control groups before we can draw any conclusions.

At present I would say there is no reason for an MS patient to have his/her H. pylori status checked.

I attach the abstract of a review article on this subject, with apologies for the jargon.

Best, Trudy Wassenaar

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