Background: We wanted to evaluate the course of chronic gastritis and its association with Helicobacter pylori and CagA seropositivity in an adult sample from Saaremaa (Estonia) during an 18-year follow-up.
Methods: Seventy persons (31 men, 39 women; median age, 57.5 years) from a primary sample of 304 subjects endoscoped in 1979 were reinvestigated by endoscopy and biopsy in 1997. The state of the gastric mucosa and the presence of H. pylori in histologic sections from the antrum and corpus were assessed both in 1979 and 1997 in 66 subjects in accordance with the Sydney system, and H. pylori status in all 70 subjects was determined with the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Anti-CagA IgGs were determined with the ELISA, using the recombinant fragment of CagA.
Results: During an 18-year follow-up 11% of the subjects developed atrophy in the antrum, whereas 35% developed it in the corpus. Development of atrophy in the corpus and the appearance of intestinal metaplasia in the antrum were associated with increased activity of gastritis both in the initial and last follow-up biopsies. Anti-CagA positivity was found in 71% of H. pylori-seropositive persons (94% of subjects). There was a significant association between CagA positivity and the activity of gastritis, the presence of atrophy or damage to surface epithelial cells in the antrum and in corpus mucosal biopsy specimens at the last follow-up endoscopy.
Conclusion: The CagA-positive strains of H. pylori enhance the development of atrophic gastritis compared with CagA-negative strains.