Background & aims: In previous studies an exaggerated effect of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) on intragastric pH in Helicobacter pylori-infected patients was observed. Because healing and improvement of symptoms in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is directly associated with an increase of intragastric pH during treatment, we hypothesized that the response to treatment with a PPI in patients with reflux esophagitis would be better in H. pylori-infected patients than in patients without H. pylori infection.
Methods: We recruited 971 patients with endoscopically verified reflux esophagitis grades II and III (Savary/Miller). At study entry, H. pylori status was assessed by a 13C-urea breath test and baseline characteristics were recorded. Physicians and patients were not notified about the results of the breath test until completion of the study. All patients underwent treatment with pantoprazole, 40 mg orally once daily for 4 weeks. Healing was verified by endoscopy after 4 or 8 weeks of treatment. If the esophagitis had not completely healed at this time, treatment was continued for a further 4-week period. Healing rates and symptom relief were compared for patients with and without H. pylori infection.
Results: The prevalence of H. pylori was 39.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 36.9-42.9), and neither gender, smoking, nor alcohol consumption were associated with the H. pylori infection (P > 0.4). The trial was completed by 846 patients without protocol violation. Overall healing rates of reflux esophagitis were 80.4% (95% CI, 77.7-83.1) and 93.6% (95% CI, 91.8-95.2) after 4 and 8 weeks, respectively. In H. pylori-positive patients, healing rates were significantly higher after 4 (86.6% vs. 76.3%; P = 0.0005) and 8 weeks (96.4% vs. 91.8%; P < 0.004). Relief of symptoms after 4 weeks was also significantly (P < 0.05) better in H. pylori-infected patients than in uninfected patients.
Conclusions: Patients with reflux esophagitis and H. pylori infection respond significantly better than H. pylori-negative patients to the PPI pantoprazole.