OBJECTIVES: The acidity of the refluxate into the esophagus is a key factor for the pathogenesis of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection can influence gastric acid secretion. We have reported that H. pylori infection prevents reflux esophagitis by decreasing gastric acid secretion in Japanese patients, but the role of this organism in Barrett's esophagus is unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of H. pylori infection and gastric acid secretion in Japanese patients with reflux esophagitis with or without Barrett's esophagus. METHODS: We enrolled 112 reflux esophagitis patients who were examined for the status of H. pylori and acid secretion in this study. They were divided into three groups, according to the presence or absence of Barrett's esophagus as follows: reflux esophagitis group without Barrett's esophagus (reflux esophagitis alone) (80 patients); short-segment Barrett's esophagus group (16 patients); and long-segment Barrett's esophagus group (LSBE) (16 patients). Age- and sex-matched control subjects were also assigned to the 80 patients with reflux esophagitis alone. The prevalence of H. pylori infection was determined by histology, rapid urease tests, and serum IgG antibodies. Gastric acid secretion was evaluated by the endoscopic gastrin test (EGT). RESULTS: The overall prevalence of H. pylori infection in the reflux esophagitis patient group (24.1%) was significantly lower than the control group (71.2%) (odds ratio 0.13, 95% confidence interval 0.07-0.24; p < 0.0001). The prevalence of H. pylori infection in the patients with Barrett's esophagus tended to be lower than that in the patients with reflux esophagitis alone (reflux esophagitis alone; 30.0%, SSBE; 18.7%, LSBE; 0%), especially in the patients with LSBE compared with the reflux esophagitis alone group (p < 0.01). The EGT value of the respective reflux esophagitis patient group was significantly higher than the control group. The EGT value in the patients with Barrett's esophagus tended to be higher than that in the patients with reflux esophagitis alone, but the difference was not statistically significant. When examined in H. pylori-negative subjects, no difference was found in the EGT value between the control subjects and the patients with reflux esophagitis alone, but it was significantly higher in patients with Barrett's esophagus than the control subjects (p < 0.05). On the other hand, when examined in the H. pylori-positive subjects, the EGT value was significantly higher in the patients with reflux esophagitis alone than in the control subjects (p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: H. pylori infection may play a protective role in the development of Barrett's esophagus, especially in the development of LSBE in Japan. Gastric acid hypersecretion may be concerned with the development of Barrett's esophagus in addition to the absence of H. pylori infection.
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