Background/aim: To study circulating gastrin profile, both fasting and postprandially, in patients with achlorhydria due to auto-immune atrophic gastritis, comparing these with normal healthy controls.
Methods: Circulating gastrins were measured using three region-specific radio-immunoassays: amidated gastrins (R98), N-terminal G34 (R526) and N-terminal G17 (GP168). Samples were analysed further using gel chromatography.
Results: Fasting gastrin concentrations were elevated in achlorhydria as measured using all three antisera: median 714 pmol/l (range 107-5176) in achlorhydria versus 12 pmol/l (2-33) in controls (R98), 343 pmol/l (45-4316) versus 10 pmol/l (5-41) (R526), and 720 pmol/l (14-6000) versus 2 pmol/l (1-10) (GP168). In patients, 47% of gastrin was amidated (95% in controls) and 30% was processed N-terminally only to G71 (4% in controls). Gastrin rose significantly postprandially: 1643 pmol/l (269-7142) in patients versus 24 pmol/l (5-142) in controls (R98), 432 pmol/l (113-4756) versus 15 pmol/l (7-45) (R526) and 2189 pmol/l (304-7150) versus 15 pmol/l (7-45) (GP168). Only 25% was amidated in the patient group (93.5% in controls) and 21% remained as component I (4% in controls).
Conclusions: This abnormal gastrin profile associated with hypergastrinaemia secondary to achlorhydria is consistent with saturation of the enzymes involved in the processing of the pro-hormone, in particular amidation of the C-terminus.