Helicobacter pylori pathogenesis and disease outcomes are mediated by a complex interplay between bacterial virulence factors, host, and environmental factors. After H. pylori enters the host stomach, four steps are critical for bacteria to establish successful colonization, persistent infection, and disease pathogenesis: (1) Survival in the acidic stomach; (2) movement toward epithelium cells by flagella-mediated motility; (3) attachment to host cells by adhesins/receptors interaction; (4) causing tissue damage by toxin release. Over the past 20 years, the understanding of H. pylori pathogenesis has been improved by studies focusing on the host and bacterial factors through epidemiology researches and molecular mechanism investigations. These include studies identifying the roles of novel virulence factors and their association with different disease outcomes, especially the bacterial adhesins, cag pathogenicity island, and vacuolating cytotoxin. Recently, the development of large-scale screening methods, including proteomic, and transcriptomic tools, has been used to determine the complex gene regulatory networks in H. pylori. In addition, a more available complete genomic database of H. pylori strains isolated from patients with different gastrointestinal diseases worldwide is helpful to characterize this bacterium. This review highlights the key findings of H. pylori virulence factors reported over the past 20 years.
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