Background/aims: In the presence of atrophic body gastritis, gastric carcinoid develops from gastric-body mucosa enterochromaffin-like cells. Few data exist on the prevalence of enterochromaffin-like dysplastic lesions in atrophic body gastritis patients and their presumed risk of evolution to carcinoid has never been assessed prospectively in humans. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence and incidence of dysplastic and neoplastic enterochromaffin-like cell lesions in a consecutive series of patients with atrophic body gastritis.
Methods: A total of 130 atrophic body gastritis patients at diagnosis and 96 atrophic body gastritis patients at follow-up (median 30 months) underwent gastroscopy with multiple biopsies and fasting gastrinaemia evaluation. In patients with enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia, a more detailed bioptic sampling at follow-up was performed.
Results: Of the 130 atrophic body gastritis patients, only one (0.7%) had a gastric carcinoid polyp, whereas enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia was found in five patients (3.8%). At follow-up only one out of the 96 atrophic body gastritis patients (1%) was diagnosed as having a carcinoid polyp at 41 months. Enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia was present in four additional patients (4.2%). Two atrophic body gastritis pernicious anaemia patients with enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia developed a gastric carcinoid in the follow-up. Among nine atrophic body gastritis patients with enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia, the incidence of carcinoid tumour was 22% compared to 1.1% of atrophic body gastritis patients without dysplasia (odds ratio: 26.00; 95% confidence interval: 2.089-323.52). During the follow-up, fasting gastrin levels increased significantly only in atrophic body gastritis patients with enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia (mean 677.4 +/- 66.1 vs 1112.2 +/- 185.6; P = 0.0287).
Conclusion: This study provides the first clinical evidence that, in hypergastrinaemic atrophic body gastritis patients, enterochromaffin-like cell dysplasia carries a markedly increased risk for development of type I gastric carcinoid. This suggests that a more detailed endoscopic/bioptic procedure in this subgroup of atrophic body gastritis patients is able to detect gastric carcinoid at an early stage.