Using serum pepsinogens wisely in a clinical practice

J Dig Dis. 2007 Feb;8(1):8-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1443-9573.2007.00278.x.


Serum pepsinogen (PG) has been used as biomarkers of gastric inflammation and mucosal status, including atrophic change, before the discovery of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Serum pepsinogen I (PG I) and pepsinogen II (PG II) levels are known to increase in the presence of H. pylori-related nonatrophic chronic gastritis. The measurement of serum PG provides much information on the presence of intestinal metaplasia as well as atrophic gastritis. The eradication of H. pylori provokes a significant change in serum PG values: it reduces both PG I and PG II and elevates the PG I to PG II ratio. Recently, the serum PG test method has been the first screening step in Japan, as well as photofluorography. Serum PG tests are used to screen for high risk subjects with atrophic gastritis, rather than as a test for cancer itself. Unlike photofluorography or endoscopy, serum PG screening can identify non-ulcerated differentiated asymptomatic cancer, irrespective of the size and location of the lesion. Most cases detected by the PG method are asymptomatic early gastric cancers and are limited to the mucosa, which are particularly well suited for endoscopic treatment. The PG method can contribute greatly to the patients' quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Gastric Acid / metabolism
  • Gastritis / diagnosis
  • Gastritis, Atrophic / diagnosis
  • Helicobacter Infections / diagnosis
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Pepsinogens / blood*
  • Stomach Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis


  • Biomarkers
  • Pepsinogens