Background: Evidence for vitamin B12 deficiency usually involves combinations of low serum vitamin B12 levels, clinical and metabolic abnormalities, and therapeutic response. Identification of the underlying cause is important in the diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency that is usually attributed to malabsorption. Helicobacter pylori is one of the most common causes of peptic ulcer disease worldwide and a major cause of chronic superficial gastritis leading to atrophy of gastric glands. It is suggested that there may be a casual relationship between H. pylori and food-cobalamin malabsorption.
Objectives: To evaluate the H. pylori incidence in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency prospectively and to assess whether treatment for H pylori infection could correct this deficiency over time.
Patients and methods: We performed a prospective cohort study involving 138 patients who had anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency. An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy was performed to assess the severity of atrophic gastritis and biopsy specimens for Campylobacter-like organisms tests and histological examination for H pylori were obtained at the time of diagnosis. The diagnosis of H. pylori prompted a combination treatment.
Results: Helicobacter pylori was detected in 77 (56%) of 138 patients with vitamin B12 deficiency and eradication of H pylori infection successfully improved anemia and serum vitamin B12 levels in 31 (40 %) of 77 infected patients.
Conclusions: Helicobacter pylori seems to be a causative agent in the development of adult vitamin B12 deficiency. Eradication of H. pylori infection alone may correct vitamin B12 levels and improve anemia in this subgroup of patients.