Roughly half the world’s population is infected by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a cause of chronic inflammation and stomach ulcers and a major risk factor for stomach cancer. This common bacterium can withstand and is actually attracted to bleach, which is important because white blood cells in the human body actually produce and secrete bleach to ward off infection.
Reported by the University of Oregon, new research from the lab of UO biologist Karen Guillemin has shown that the “H. pylori bacteria may be attracted to bleach as part of a strategy to remain at sites of inflammation long term. Bleach is a hallmark of tissue inflammation, and the H. pylori bacteria make a living of promoting and inhabiting inflamed tissue for years or even decades.”
Similar bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli can also detect bleach, providing researchers with a previously unrecognized strategy bacteria use to sense host inflammation. This breakthrough information could potentially lead to new therapies.
Arden Perkins, a postdoctoral fellow and the lead author on Helicobacter pylori senses bleach (HOCl) as a chemoattractant using a cytosolic chemoreceptor.
Call to Action: Want to know more about this breakthrough? You can read more here at this new paper in PLOS Biology.