Helicobacter pylori is an important factor of chronic gastritis, digestive ulcer, and stomach cancer. CagL, a virulence factor of H. pylori, is well-known as a pilus protein which acts as adhesion to host cell and a component of Type 4 secretion system. In this study, we evaluated the protective response of recombinant CagL protein (rCagL) using Mongolian gerbil animal model for H. pylori infection. The cagL gene was cloned from 26695 H. pylori followed by over-expression and purification of the protein in E. coli. Mongolian gerbils were immunized with rCagL protein mixed with aluminum adjuvant via intramuscular injections once a week during 4 weeks. At a week after the last immunization, the Mongolian gerbils were administrated with H. pylori 7.13 strain into the stomach and sacrificed to measure antibody titer on rCagL by ELISA and bacterial colonization in the stomach, and to examine the histopathological changes and cytokine expression at 6 week after challenge. Antibody titers on recombinant protein were significantly increased from a week after the first immunization. There was no significant change of the number of bacterial colony between control group and immunized group. The relative stomach weight was significantly decreased in immunized group, but the significant change of histopathological assessment was not observed in the stomach. Cytokine expression such as IL-1β and KC also was not significantly different between control and immunized groups. These results indicate that rCagL could effectively induce the formation of the specific IgG antibodies. However, bacterial colonization and histopathological lesions could not be inhibited by the immunization in the stomach, indicating not enough protection against H. pylori infection. We consider that along with CagL other adequate antigens could be needed stimulating immune response and inducing protective effects against gastric disease, and also a better adjuvant could be considered.
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