Background & aims: Hypergastrinemia occurs frequently in association with acid suppression and Helicobacter infection, but its role in the progression to gastric atrophy and gastric cancer has not been well defined.
Methods: The effects of hypergastrinemia, and possible synergy with Helicobacter felis infection, were investigated in insulin-gastrin (INS-GAS) transgenic mice.
Results: INS-GAS mice initially showed mild hypergastrinemia, increased maximal gastric acid secretion, and increased parietal cell number but later progressed to decreased parietal cell number and hypochlorhydria. Development of gastric atrophy was associated with increased expression of growth factors, heparin-binding epidermal growth factor and transforming growth factor alpha. At 20 months of age, INS-GAS mice showed no evidence of increased enterochromaffin-like cell number, but instead exhibited gastric metaplasia, dysplasia, carcinoma in situ, and gastric cancer with vascular invasion. Invasive gastric carcinoma was observed in 6 of 8 INS-GAS mice that were >20 months old. Helicobacter felis infection of INS-GAS mice led to accelerated (< or = 8 mo) development of intramucosal carcinoma (85%), with submucosal invasion (54%) and intravascular invasion (46%; P < or = 0.05).
Conclusions: These findings support the unexpected conclusion that chronic hypergastrinemia in mice can synergize with Helicobacter infection and contribute to eventual parietal cell loss and progression to gastric cancer.