Objective: The clinical significance of chronic inflammation at the gastroesophageal junction (carditis) is unknown: it may be associated with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) gastritis or with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We aimed to examine the association between carditis and H. pylori gastritis and endoscopic erosive esophagitis.
Methods: One thousand and fifty-three patients undergoing gastroscopy were enrolled in the study. Biopsy specimens were obtained from gastric antrum and corpus, immediately distal to normal-appearing squamocolumnar junction and distal esophagus.
Results: Chronic inflammation at the gastroesophageal junctional mucosa (carditis) was detected in 790 (75%) of 1053 patients. The male:female ratio of the carditis group was 1:1.5 and of the noncarditis group 1:1.6 (p = 0.6). The mean age of the carditis group was 58.7 yr (95% confidence interval [CI], 57.6-59.9) and of the noncarditis group, 52.6 yr (95% CI, 50.7-54.6, p < 0.001). Of the carditis group (N = 790), 549 (69%) had chronic gastritis (70% H. pylori positive) and 241 (31%) had normal gastric histology. In multivariate analyses, the only risk factor for carditis in subjects with chronic gastritis was H. pylori infection (odds ratio [OR], 2.9; 95% CI, 1.6-5.0), whereas the independent risk factor for carditis in subjects with histologically normal stomach was endoscopic erosive esophagitis (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1-3.1). The prevalence of complete intestinal metaplasia (IM) in the gastric cardia mucosa was 7% in the noncarditis group, 19% (p < 0.001) in the carditis group with chronic gastritis, and 10% (p = 0.3) in the carditis group with normal stomach. The respective prevalences of incomplete IM were 3%, 12% (p < 0.001), and 12% (p < 0.001). Among carditis patients with normal stomach histologically (N = 241), those with complete and/or incomplete IM (N = 49) were older than those with carditis only (63.6 yr [95% CI, 59.9-67.2] vs 51.4 yr [95% CI, 48.9-53.9]; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Two dissimilar types of chronic inflammation of the gastric cardia mucosa seem to occur, one existing in conjunction with chronic H. pylori gastritis and the other with normal stomach and erosive GERD. Most cases of chronic gastric cardia inflammation and intestinal metaplasia are detected in patients with chronic H. pylori gastritis.