Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology Open Access

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Is Sudden Sensori-neural Hearing Loss an Additional Extra Digestive Disease Associated with HP Infection?

Antonio Ponzetto, Giovanni Cavallo, Brunilda Alushi, Natale Figura and Elena Moretti

Background: Sudden Sensori-neural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is an abrupt failure of the cochlear function of unknown etiology. Possible causes include chronic infections leading to increased systemic levels of cytokines, which could damage the cochlear pumps H+, K+- and Na+, K+- ATPases. Helicobacter pylori infection stimulates systemic cytokine production. Proton pumps in cochlea and stomach are almost identical. Methods: We examined 18 consecutive SSHL patients, 18 matched controls for serum antibodies to Helicobacter pylori, and to the H+, K+-ATPase, and “blasted” the human proton pump against Helicobacter epitopes in the protein database at NCBI. Results: Seventeen SSHL patients (94.4%) and ten controls (55.5%) were Helicobacter pylori positive (P=0.008, OR=13.6). Anti-H+, K+-ATPase autoantibodies were present in six SSHL patients (33.3%) and one control (5.5%) (P=0.043, OR=8.5). Significant homologies were found between human proton pump and various bacterial ionic pumps. Notably, up to one fourth of Helicobacter pylori infected patients produce autoantibodies to the gastric proton pump, i.e., H+, K+- ATPase. Conclusion: Helicobacter pylori infection may be related to an increased risk of SSHL.