Aims: To evaluate the effect of Helicobacter pylori infection and aging on atrophy and intestinal metaplasia of the gastric mucosa.
Methods: One hundred and sixty-three patients were divided into three age groups and underwent an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy where no esophagitis, peptic ulcers, or malignancies were detected. Two biopsy specimens were obtained from the anterior and posterior walls of the antrum and of the fundus. These were used to evaluate the grade of gastritis, bacterial culture and histologic evidence of H. pylori infection.
Results: Helicobacter pylori infection was found to be directly associated with an increased risk of gastritis grade (odds ratio (OR) = 90 (95% CI; 30-270)). An age of 60 years and older along with H. pylori infection was also strongly associated with an increased risk of atrophy (OR = 6.6, (95% CI; 2.9-15.2)); OR = 9.8, (95% CI; 2.7-35.4)), as was intestinal metaplasia of the gastric mucosa (OR = 5.5, (95% CI; 1.7-17.6)); OR = 7.9, (95% CI; 2.8-46.1)). The prevalence of atrophic gastritis increased with advancing age in H. pylori-infected patients, but no such phenomenon was observed in H. pylori-uninfected patients. The prevalence of intestinal metaplasia significantly increased with advancing age, irrespective of the presence of H. pylori infection. In addition, H. pylori uninfected female patients had a decreased risk of intestinal metaplasia.
Conclusions: These results suggest that atrophic gastritis is not a normal aging process, but instead is likely to be the result of H. pylori infection, while intestinal metaplasia is caused by both the aging process and H. pylori infection. A decreased risk of intestinal metaplasia found in uninfected female subjects may partly explain the lower prevalence of gastric cancer in females than in males.