Background: We recently reported the expansion of the acid-secreting mucosa following Helicobacter pylori eradication with Congo red chromoendoscopy for a short-term follow-up of up to 7 months. We aimed to extend the observation period and to clarify the characteristic features of acid-secreting and non-acid-secreting mucosa. Methods: In 24 H. pylori-positive patients with fundic atrophy, Congo red chromoendoscopy was performed prior to, 1 month, 7 months, and finally more than 2 years after the eradication. The areas of the acidsecreting mucosa were evaluated semiquantitatively. Two gastric biopsy specimens were taken from the acidsecreting and non-acid-secreting areas at the final chromoendoscopy and were subjected to histologic evaluation and immunohistochemistry for Ki-67 as a proliferation index. Results: After a gradual increase in acidsecreting areas for up to 7 months after eradication, they further increased in 79% subjects between 7 months and the final observation at a mean follow-up of 62 months. However, there still existed non-acid-secreting mucosa in the fundic area in all subjects, indicating that the expansion of acid-secreting mucosa remained partial. Compared with the neighboring acid-secreting area, the non-acid-secreting area was characterized histologically by higher degrees of residual inflammation, mucosal atrophy, and intestinal metaplasia, and by sustained hyperproliferation as well. Conclusions: Functionally irreversible (non-acid-secreting) gastric mucosa after eradication was associated with extensive intestinal metaplasia and sustained hyperproliferation, suggesting that such mucosa still possesses malignant potential. Congo red chromoendoscopy may be useful for estimating the risk of subsequent development of gastric cancer following successful H. pylori eradication by determining the distribution of functionally irreversible mucosa.
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