AIM: To determine the expression of membrane-bound mucins and glycan side chain sialic acids in Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori )-associated, non-steroidal inflammatory drug (NSAID)-associated and idiopathic-gastric ulcers. METHODS: We studied a cohort of randomly selected patients with H. pylori (group 1, n = 30), NSAID (group 2, n = 18), combined H. pylori and NSAID associated gastric ulcers (group 3, n = 24), and patients with idiopathic gastric ulcers (group 4, n = 20). Immunohistochemistry for MUC1, MUC4, MUC17, and staining for Erythrina cristagalli agglutinin and Sambucus nigra agglutinin (SNA) lectins was performed on sections from the ulcer margins. RESULTS: Staining intensity of MUC17 was higher in H. pylori ulcers (group 1) than in idiopathic ulcers (group 4), 11.05 ± 3.67 vs 6.93 ± 4.00 for foveola cells, and 10.29 ± 4.67 vs 8.00 ± 3.48 for gland cells, respectively (P <0.0001). In contrast, MUC1 expression was higher in group 4 compared group 1, 9.89 ± 4.17 vs 2.93 ± 5.13 in foveola cells and 7.63 ± 4.60 vs 2.57± 4.50 for glands, respectively (P <0.0001). SNA lectin staining was increased in group 4, in parallel to elevated MUC1 expression, indicating more abundant α2-6 sialylation in that group. CONCLUSION: Cytoplasmic MUC17 staining was significantly decreased in the cases with idiopathic ulcer. The opposite was observed for both MUC1 and SNA lectin. This observation may reflect important pathogenic mechanisms, since different mucins with altered sialylation patterns may differ in their protection efficiency against acid and pepsin.
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