Background: Little is known about early stages of intestinal metaplastic in chronic gastritis. The purpose of this study was to determine the presence of sulfated mucosubstances hence most probably intestinal metaplasia, in isolated cells of surface gastric pits, and glands in pediatric patients with Helicobacter pylori-associated chronic gastritis.
Methods: Participants were nine patients (nine different biopsies; mean age 11.5 years, range 3-16 years) with sulfomucin-containing cells evident in the gastric biopsy specimen. Eight of the patients were selected from a group of 15 patients with histologically documented H. pylori-associated chronic gastritis in whom the utility of the Sydney system was being tested.
Results: Symptoms and endoscopic findings of H. pylori-associated chronic gastritis were the same regardless of the presence or absence of sulfomucin-containing cells. On hematoxylin and eosin stained tissues, neither intestinal metaplasia nor atrophy was apparent. However, periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-alcian blue (pH 1.0) stain revealed the presence of sulfated mucosubstances in isolated cells of gastric pits and glands in the nine patients.
Conclusions: This finding may represent a "minimal" form of incomplete intestinal metaplasia (type III). Because the nine patients had been untreated, the change is probably reversible. Two follow-up biopsies in patients in whom H. pylori had been treated and eradicated showed absence of sulfated mucins. Although these findings cannot be regarded as fully developed type III intestinal metaplasia, it is possible that left untreated, the alteration may persist and evolve into some other complication. This conclusion justifies follow-up of these patients.