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Serologic host response to Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni in socially housed Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Sabine Kienesberger1*, Guillermo I Perez-Perez12, Juan L Rivera-Correa5, Rafael Tosado-Acevedo6, Huilin Li4, Andre Dubois7, Janis A Gonzalez-Martinez8, Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello15 and Martin J Blaser123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

2 Department of Microbiology, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

3 VA Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

4 Department of Population Health, NYUSOM, New York, NY, USA

5 Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, USA

6 Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus, San Juan, PR, USA

7 Digestive Diseases Division, Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA

8 Caribbean Primate Research Center, University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, PR, USA

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Gut Pathogens 2012, 4:9  doi:10.1186/1757-4749-4-9

Published: 24 August 2012



Helicobacter pylori are successful colonizers of the human gastric mucosa. Colonization increases the risk of peptic ulcer disease and adenocarcinoma. However, potential benefits of H. pylori colonization include protection against early-onset asthma and against gastrointestinal infections. Campylobacter jejuni are a leading cause of bacterial diarrhea and complications include Guillain-Barré syndrome. Here, we describe the development of reliable serological assays to detect antibodies against those two bacteria in Rhesus macaques and investigated their distribution within a social group of monkeys.


Two cohorts of monkeys were analyzed. The first cohort consisted of 30 monkeys and was used to establish an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for H. pylori antibodies detection. To evaluate colonization of those macaques, stomach biopsies were collected and analyzed for the presence of H. pylori by histology and culture. C. jejuni ELISAs were established using human serum with known C. jejuni antibody status. Next, plasma samples of the 89 macaques (Cohort 2) were assayed for antibodies and then statistically analyzed.


An H. pylori IgG ELISA, which was 100% specific and 93% sensitive, was established. In contrast, the IgA ELISA was only 82% specific and 61% sensitive. The CagA IgG assay was 100% sensitive and 61% of the macaques were positive. In cohort 2, 62% macaques were H. pylori sero-positive and 52% were CagA positive. The prevalence of H. pylori IgG and CagA IgG increased with monkey age as described for humans. Of the 89 macaques 52% showed IgG against C. jejuni but in contrast to H. pylori, the sero-prevalence was not associated with increasing age. However, there was a drop in the IgG (but not in IgA) mean values between infant and juvenile macaques, similar to trends described in humans.


Rhesus macaques have widespread exposure to H. pylori and C. jejuni, reflecting their social conditions and implying that Rhesus macaques might provide a model to study effects of these two important human mucosal bacteria on a population.

Helicobacter pylori; Campylobacter jejuni; Rhesus macaques; Antibodies; Sero-prevalence; CagA