Author(s): Flahou B, Modr D, Pomajbkov K, Petrelkov KJ, Smet A,
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Abstract A number of Helicobacter species cause gastrointestinal or hepatic disease in humans, including H. pylori, gastric non-H. pylori helicobacters from animal origin and enterohepatic Helicobacter species. Little is known on the presence of Helicobacter species in great apes, our closest living relatives and potential reservoirs of microorganisms that might emerge in humans. The aim of the present study was to investigate the presence of gastric and enterohepatic Helicobacter species in African chimpanzees and gorillas. Fresh fecal samples were collected from wild endangered chimpanzees and critically endangered western lowland gorillas from different African National Parks, as well as wild-born captive animals from primate sanctuaries. Intact Helicobacter bacteria were demonstrated in feces by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Screening using a Helicobacter genus-specific PCR revealed the presence of Helicobacter DNA in the majority of animals in all groups. Cloning and sequencing of 16S rRNA gene fragments revealed a high homology to sequences from various zoonotic enterohepatic Helicobacter species, including H. cinaedi and H. canadensis. A number of gorillas and chimpanzees also tested positive using PCR assays designed to amplify part of the ureAB gene cluster and the hsp60 gene of gastric helicobacters. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the presence of a putative novel zoonotic gastric Helicobacter taxon/species. For this species, we propose the name 'Candidatus Helicobacter homininae', pending isolation and further genetic characterization. The presence of several Helicobacter species not only implies a possible health threat for these endangered great apes, but also a possible zoonotic transmission of gastric and enterohepatic helicobacters from these primate reservoirs to humans. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Vet Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals