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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2007 February;98(1):37-41

language: Italian

Helicobacter pylori and headache: a minireview

Pellicano R., Savi L., De Martino P., Morgando A., Astegiano M., Pinessi L., Rizzetto M.

1 S.C.D.U. Gastro-Epatologia Azienda Ospedaliera San Giovanni Battista, Molinette, Torino
2 Centro Cefalee, Neurologia 2 Dipartimento di Neuroscienze Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino


The interest that surrounds the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is due not only to its causal role in several gastroduodenal diseases, but also to its supposed involvement in the pathogenesis of extragastric manifestations. This review provides a literature update on the hypothetic correlation between H. pylori and headache. The authors examine three aspects of this potential association: epidemiology, intervention trials and pathogenesis. Regarding the first, apart in some subgroups, no difference in prevalence exists between patients and controls. Considering the intervention studies, it is documented that, at 6 and 12 months, bacterial eradication is associated to disappearance of symptoms in 23% and 28% of cases, and to a significant decrease of intensity, frequency and duration of acute attacks in the remaining patients. As to the pathogenetic aspect, if H. pylori has a role, it does not act through oxidative stress. In conclusion, the involvement of H. pylori infection in the pathogenesis of headache is unclear. Further investigations should focalize on particular subgroups of patients and, encouraged from data produced by intervention studies, evaluate the long-term benefit of eradication.

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