Helicobacter infections of laboratory animals may influence the results of in vivo experiments, necessitating diagnostic methods that are specific, sensitive and rapid. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is currently the preferred diagnostic tool for detecting Helicobacter infections in mice; however, detection ability may vary considerably among laboratories. Nine commercial and academic European labs participated in a 3-year ring study that was designed to explore this problem. The authors sought to identify which PCR methods were used for detection of murine Helicobacter spp. in fecal pellets and to compare the sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility of these methods. The study consisted of four rounds in which labs tested mouse fecal samples spiked with H. bilis, H. hepaticus or H. muridarum. The first round showed differences of up to 3 logs in detection sensitivity. Over the course of the study, sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility of PCR results in all labs improved substantially. By the study's conclusion, diagnostic ability in all labs was sufficient to reliably detect Helicobacter in naturally infected mice.

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We thank D. Bulian, C. Ludwig, S. Bensch, S. Scharold, I. Krüger, M. Wöhl, S. Bellgardt, K. Mueller and E. Gubanow for excellent technical assistance.

Author information

Author notes

    • Corinna Moerth

    Present address: Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany.

    • Michael Mähler

    Present address: BioDoc, Biomedical Diagnostics, Hannover, Germany.

    • Michel Seidelin

    Present address: CLC bio AS, Aarhus, Denmark.

    • Corinna Moerth
    •  & Esther Mahabir

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Department of Comparative Medicine, Helmholtz Center Munich German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany.

    • Corinna Moerth
    • , Esther Mahabir
    • , Markus Brielmeier
    • , Kyriaki Markoullis
    • , Karin Jacobsen
    • , Patricia Wilhelm
    •  & Jörg Schmidt
  2. Institute of Toxicology, Helmholtz Center Munich German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany.

    • Wolfgang Beisker
  3. The Microbiology Laboratories, North Harrow, Middlesex, UK.

    • Jeffrey Needham
  4. Department of Molecular Biology, Vet Med Labor GmbH, Division of IDEXX Laboratories, Ludwigsburg, Germany.

    • Hans-Jörg Balzer
  5. LAS Diagnostics, GlaxoSmithKline, Herts, UK.

    • Louise E. Bater
    •  & Jacqueline Dix
  6. Institute for Laboratory Animal Science and Central Animal Facility, Hannover Medical School, Germany

    • André Bleich
    •  & Michael Mähler
  7. Molecular Biology Laboratory, Harlan UK Hillcrest, Loughborough, UK.

    • Adrian Deeny
    • , Julian D. Phipps
    •  & Andy Tomlinson
  8. GIMmbH, Wildenbruch, Germany.

    • Angelika Lorenz
  9. Microbiological Diagnostics, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.

    • Werner Nicklas
  10. Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene, Technical University, Munich, Germany.

    • Karin E. Seidel
  11. Taconic Europe, Silkeborg, Denmark.

    • Michel Seidelin
    •  & Martin F. Toft


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Esther Mahabir.

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