The Correlation between Helicobacter Pylori Infection and Disease Severity in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis

Elham Atabati, Zhaleh Shariati Sarabi, Mohammad Hasan Jokar, Kamila Hashemzadeh, Zahra Mirfeizi



Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a relatively common connective tissue disease, which is characterized by inflammation, progressive skin fibrosis, and injuries of small vessels, particularly in the lung and kidney. It seems that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) might contribute to the development of SSc as an extra-gastrointestinal autoimmune disease. We investigated the association between H. pylori infections and disease severity in patients with SSc.

Study design: This is a cross-sectional study.


Sampling method in this study was census method in such a way that all patients with SSc referred to Imam Reza Education and Research University Medical Center from May 2015 to August 2016 were included in the study. Finally, 74 patients were selected based on the inclusion criteria.

Inclusion criteria were: 1. Definitive SSc based on  American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism 2010 (ACR/EULAR) classification for scleroderma, which was diagnosed within the last two years. 2. Not taking any proton pump inhibitors. 3. Not taking any H. pylori treatment with a standard regimen within the recent 2 months.

Disease severity was assessed and determined by two rheumatologists based on the Medsger's Disease Severity Scale (MDSS). H. pylori stool antigen was evaluated based on the test which sensitivity and specificity was proven. All obtained data were statistically analyzed by SPSS 16 using Fisher’s exact test Spearman correlation test (RSpearman).


 Forty one  (55.4%) of the 74 patients had positive stool antigens. We found a significant positive association between the severity of disease based on MDSS and titer of H. pylori stool antigen (p ≤0.001).


 This study reveals that H. pylori infection may play a significant role in the severity of organ involvement in SSc.


Systemic sclerosis, Helicobacter pylori, Severity of disease, Cytotoxic drugs

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