Background: It is well known that chronic gastritis induced by Helicobacter pylori may be associated with hypochlorhydria and may also be accompanied by low levels of vitamin C in plasma and gastric juice in adults. This study investigates the relationship between H. pylori infection and vitamin C levels in the blood, plasma and gastric juice and the gastric juice pH of Korean children.
Methods: During a 5-year period, multiple gastric antral biopsies were taken from 452 children who underwent gastroduodenoscopy. The biopsy specimen was inoculated into phenol red buffered urea broth and incubated for 48 hours to detect color changes. The histopathologic findings were evaluated using the Sydney System. Concentrations of vitamin C in whole blood, plasma, and gastric juice aspirate were measured using the 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine method.
Results: Four hundred fifty-two patients (228 boys, 224 girls) aged 1 to 15 years were enrolled in this study. H. pylori was detected in 112 patients (24.8%) using histology, whereas it was found in 204 patients (45.1%) using the urease test. One hundred seven patients (23.7%) had active gastritis, and 421 patients (93.1%) had chronic gastritis. Vitamin C levels in whole blood, plasma, and gastric juice exhibited significant negative correlation with the age of patients, the histologic density of H. pylori, the degree of active and chronic gastritis, and the severity of H. pylori infection (based on urease positivity and histologic density of H. pylori). Gastric juice pH was correlated with the degree of chronic gastritis and was significantly higher in urease-positive patients.
Conclusions: The data demonstrate that vitamin C levels in whole blood, plasma, and gastric juice and the gastric juice pH in Korean children are closely related to the severity of H. pylori infection and the histologic changes in the stomach. These data suggest that vitamin C may play a role in determining infection and progression, and vitamin C supplementation may be an important axis for the management of H. pylori infection in children.