The molecular mechanisms of gastric carcinogenesis after Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) eradication remain unclear. We examined the telomere length of gastric mucosa samples after successful H. pylori eradication in patients without and those with gastric cancer. Telomere length was measured by the real-time PCR among four different groups of biopsies: gastric body from subjects without history of H. pylori infection (Hp-: n = 23), gastric body from cancer-free subjects after H. pylori eradication (cancer-free body: n = 24), gastric body from early gastric cancer patients diagnosed after H. pylori eradication (EGC body: n = 35) and its paired samples from adjacent mucosa of cancerous area (EGC ADJ: n = 35). The Hp-group presented the longest telomeres among the all groups (Hp- vs. all others, all P < 0.05). Samples from EGC body group showed shorter telomere length than the samples from cancer-free body groups (P < 0.05). Conversely, samples from EGC ADJ group showed rather longer telomere length compared to the EGC body group (P < 0.05), which was also confirmed by the comparison of 35 matched samples (P = 0.0007). Among the samples after H. pylori eradication, shorter telomere length was associated with higher expression of IL-1B and NF-kB (P < 0.0001, 0.0006, respectively). Longer telomere length was also associated with higher expression of TNF-A (P = 0.01). Telomere shortening seems to be important initial steps in gastric cancer predisposition after H. pylori eradication, while it might shift to lengthening to acquire more aggressive pathway to develop cancer.
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