Objectives: The relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and gastroesophageal reflux (H. pylori) disease (GERD) is controversial. In Asian populations, the prevalence of H. pylori infection is high and GERD is relatively uncommon. The aim of this study was 1) to test the hypothesis that H. pylori protects the esophagus against GERD, and 2) to study the pattern of H. pylori colonization and gastritis in GERD.
Methods: We conducted a prospective case-control study in which patients with GERD and asymptomatic controls were compared for the prevalence of H. pylori infection. Diagnosis of GERD was based on symptoms of heartburn that improved with acid-suppressive therapy and/or endoscopic evidence of erosive esophagitis. H. pylori status was determined by serology and, when endoscopy was indicated, was confirmed by rapid urease test and histology. Gastric biopsies were examined under hematoxylin and eosin and Giemsa stains. Density of H. pylori colonization and activity of gastritis at different parts of stomach were graded and compared according to Updated Sydney system.
Results: A total of 106 patients with GERD and 120 age- and sex-matched, asymptomatic controls were enrolled. The prevalence of H. pylori infection was significantly lower in GERD patients (31%) compared with controls (61%, p < 0.001, odds ratio 0.229, 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.41). H. pylori-infected GERD patients showed significantly more severe gastritis in the antrum than in other parts of stomach (mean inflammatory scores: antrum; 3.3 +/- 1.63*, body; 1.85 +/- 1.31; fundus; 1.65 +/- 0.58; cardia, 1.65 +/- 1.39; *p < 0.005). H. pylori colonization was found less commonly and at lower density at the cardia compared with other parts of the stomach.
Conclusions: H. pylori infection protects against the development of GERD, and carditis is unlikely to play an important role.