Background: Intestinal type metaplasia plays a role in intestinal type gastric carcinoma development. Ascorbic acid demonstrates a protective effect against gastric carcinogenesis, due to its ability to inactivate oxygen free-radicals as well as its nitrite-scavenging effects.
Aim: To assess whether long-term ascorbic acid administration following Helicobacter pylori eradication could affect intestinal metaplasia regression in the stomach.
Methods: Sixty-five patients were included in the study. The inclusion criterion was the presence of intestinal metaplasia on the gastric mucosa after H. pylori eradication. An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy was performed and 3 biopsy specimens were taken in the antrum, 3 in the gastric body, and 2 in the incisura angularis. Patients were randomized to receive 500 mg of ascorbic acid o.d., after lunch (32 patients) for 6 months or no treatment (33 patients). All patients underwent to endoscopic control at the end of the 6 months.
Results: H. pylori infection recurrence was detected in 6 (9.4%) patients (three from each group), and these patients were excluded from further analysis. We were unable to find evidence of intestinal metaplasia in any biopsied site of the gastric mucosa in 9/29 (31%) patients from the ascorbic acid group and in 1/29 (3.4%) of the patients from the control group (P=0.006). Moreover, a further six (20.7%) patients from the ascorbic acid group presenting chronic inactive pangastritis with widespread intestinal metaplasia at entry, showed less extensive antritis with intestinal metaplasia at control, whilst a similar finding was only seen in one patient from the control group (P=0.051).
Conclusion: The administration of ascorbic acid significantly helps to resolve intestinal metaplasia of the gastric mucosa following H. pylori eradication, and its use as a chemoprevention treatment should be considered.