Helicobacter pylori colonization leads to epithelial cell hyperproliferation within inflamed mucosa, but levels of apoptosis vary, suggesting that imbalances between rates of cell production and loss may contribute to differences in gastric cancer risk among infected populations. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) regulates inflammatory and growth responses of intestinal epithelial cells. We determined whether activation of PPARgamma modified H. pylori-induced apoptosis in gastric epithelial cells. PPARgamma was expressed and functionally active in gastric epithelial cell lines sensitive to H. pylori-induced apoptosis. PPARgamma ligands 15d-PGJ(2) and BRL-49653 significantly attenuated H. pylomicronri-induced apoptosis, effects that could be reversed by co-treatment with a specific PPARgamma antagonist. Cyclopentanone prostaglandins that do not bind and activate PPARgamma had no effects on H. pylori-induced apoptosis. The ability of H. pylori to activate nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB and increase levels of the NF-kappaB target IL-8 was blocked by co-treatment with PPARgamma agonists, and direct inhibition of NF-kappaB also abolished H. pylori-stimulated apoptosis. These results suggest that activation of the PPARgamma pathway attenuates the ability of H. pylori to induce NF-kappaB-mediated apoptosis in gastric epithelial cells. Because PPARgamma regulates a multitude of host responses, activation of this receptor may contribute to varying levels of cellular turnover as well as the diverse pathologic outcomes associated with chronic H. pylori colonization.