Objective: Although it is widely accepted that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is an important cause of atrophic gastritis, few studies have examined the relationship between H. pylori-induced atrophic gastritis and the occurrence of reflux esophagitis. The present study was aimed to examine the relationship between H. pylori infection, atrophic gastritis, and reflux esophagitis in Japan.
Methods: A total of 175 patients with reflux esophagitis were compared with sex- and age-matched 175 control subjects. Diagnosis of H. pylori infection was made by gastric mucosal biopsy, rapid urease test, and serum IgG antibodies. Severity of atrophic gastritis was assessed by histology and serum pepsinogen I/II ratio.
Results: H. pylori infection was found in 59 (33.7%) patients with reflux esophagitis, whereas it was found in 126 (72.0%) control subjects. The grade of atrophic gastritis was significantly lower in the former than in the latter. Among the H. pylori-positive patients, atrophic gastritis was milder in the patients with reflux esophagitis than in the patients without it.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that most cases of reflux esophagitis in Japan occur in the absence of H. pylori infection and atrophic gastritis, and it may also tend to occur in patients with milder gastritis even in the presence of H. pylori infection. Therefore, H. pylori infection may be an inhibitory factor of reflux esophagitis through inducing atrophic gastritis and concomitant hypoacidity.