Aims: To evaluate prevalence of primary Helicobacter pylori antibiotic resistances in Northeast Italy and to identify risk factors associated with this resistance.
Materials and methods: A total of 248 patients undergoing upper gastrointestinal endoscopy were enrolled from 19 Endoscopy Units over a 6-month period. From each patient, 4 gastric biopsies were taken for histology and 2 were sent to the Central Referral Microbiological Laboratory for culture and determination of antibiotic activity against Helicobacter pylori by means of E-test. Strains were considered resistant when minimum inhibitory concentration was >8 microg/ml for metronidazole and >1 microg/ml for clarithromycin. No cut-off value was predefined for amoxycillin.
Results: Culture of Helicobacter pylori was successfully performed in 167 patients. Primary resistance to metronidazole, clarithromycin or amoxycillin was 14.9%, 1.8% and 0%, respectively Patients infected with Helicobacter pylori strains resistant to antibiotics were more frequently females than males (70.3% vs 41.4%), had a significantly lower coffee intake (66.6% vs 86.6%) and lower body mass index (23.7+/-2.6 vs 25.3+/-3.6) than patients with susceptible Helicobacter pylori strains. Age, smoking, alcohol use, family history of Helicobacter pylori infection, concomitant diseases and treatments, endoscopic diagnoses, Helicobacter pylori density and histological activity of chronic gastritis were not associated with antibiotic resistance. Multivariate analysis confirmed that female gender (odds ratio = 2.74, 95% confidence interval = 1.03-7.27) was the only significant risk factor associated with antibiotic resistance.
Conclusions: In this population, primary Helicobacter pylori resistance to metronidazole was higher than resistance to clarithromycin, and female gender was significantly associated with this resistance. The low prevalence of resistance to metronidazole, clarithromycin and amoxycillin identified in this geographical area suggests that proton pump inhibitor-based triple regimens including these antibiotics may still be used as first line therapies against Helicobacter pylori infection.