We have recently reported that Helicobacter pylori strains expressing the virulence factor cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA) stimulate increased levels of spermine oxidase (SMO) in gastric epithelial cells, while cagA⁻ strains did not. SMO catabolizes the polyamine spermine and produces H₂O₂ that results in both apoptosis and DNA damage. Exogenous overexpression of CagA confirmed these findings, and knockdown or inhibition of SMO blocked CagA-mediated apoptosis and DNA damage. The strong association of SMO, apoptosis, and DNA damage was also demonstrated in humans infected with cagA⁺, but not cagA⁻ strains. In infected gerbils and mice, DNA damage was CagA-dependent and only present in epithelial cells that expressed SMO. We also discovered SMO (high) gastric epithelial cells from infected animals with dysplasia that are resistant to apoptosis despite high levels of DNA damage. Inhibition of polyamine synthesis or SMO could abrogate the development of this cell population that may represent precursors for neoplastic transformation.