A very simple, practical, sensitive, and specific colorimetric hybridization assay for detecting amplified Helicobacter pylori DNA is described. This assay, which combines a sensitive sandwich DNA hybridization reaction and a colorimetric protocol similar to those used in conventional enzyme immunoassays, was shown to be suitable for detecting H. pylori-infected gastric biopsy specimens and for monitoring the eradication of the pathogen after treatment. The specificity and sensitivity of the colorimetric hybridization assay were tested by assaying 27 H. pylori strains (4 reference and 23 clinical isolates), 9 strains of other Helicobacter spp. or Campylobacter spp., and 11 clinical isolates of other urease-positive bacteria. The likelihood of H. pylori detection in gastric biopsy specimens by the colorimetric hybridization assay was evaluated with 23 H. pylori-positive and 41 H. pylori-negative biopsy specimens on the basis of positive and negative results, respectively, of culture, rapid urease test, histological examination, and PCR. Biopsy specimens from 33 treated patients, endoscopied 4 to 8 weeks after the end of treatment, were also tested. All H. pylori strains showed positive results in the colorimetric hybridization assay, presenting optical densities at 450 nm (OD450S) of > or = 3.0. None of the other Helicobacter spp., Campylobacter spp., or the clinical isolates of other urease-positive bacteria showed OD450S equal to or greater than the cutoff (mean OD450 cutoff, 0.208). The colorimetric hybridization assay detected all 23 H. pylori-positive biopsy specimens (mean OD450, 2.910 +/- 0.295), while none of the H. pylori-negative biopsy specimens was shown to be positive in the assay (mean OD450, 0.108 +/- 0.025). H. pylori was considered to be not eradicated from three of the posttreatment biopsy specimens by culture, rapid urease test, histological examination, and PCR. They were all positive by the colorimetric hybridization assay, and their OD450S were > or = 3.0. The colorimetric hybridization assay also detected two other H. pylori-positive patients. Specimens from these two patients had negative culture, rapid urease test, and histology results, and a specimen from one of them also tested negative by PCR. These results indicate that the colorimetric hybridization assay is a suitable method both for the diagnosis of H. pylori in biopsy specimens and for the follow-up of patients after the end of treatment
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