Morphologic Conversion of Helicobacter Pylori from Spiral to Coccoid Form: Scanning (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) Suggest Viability
Scanning (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) suggest viability
Helicobacter pylori is a pathogen associated with type B gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, gastric atrophy, and stomach cancer. H. pylori exists in two morphological forms, spirals and coccoids. The latter has been described as viable but non-cultivable. The role of the coccoid form in the pathogenesis of gastric disease is disputed. Some authors consider the coccoid form to be a degenerative or dead form of H.pylori, while others consider it a resting but still metabolically active form.
This study reports the conversion from spiral to coccoid form ultrastructurally. Dense material is accumulated in the periplasmic space, the spiral bacteria bend and the outer membrane is separated from the inner cell wall layer. Remodeling of inner structures takes place, ending in the coccoid form of the bacteria with preserved light polyphosphate areas. Reduction of surface takes place by production of surface membrane vesicles, which later are squeezed off. The finding of preserved subcellular structures and intact double membranes in combination with degenerative forms suggests that some of the coccoids are viable Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) demonstrates coccoid form of bacteria with slightly ruffled surfaces but no spiral forms.
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