Larger amounts of nitrite and nitrate-reducing bacteria in megaesophagus of Chagas' disease than in controls

J Gastrointest Surg. 2007 Feb;11(2):199-203. doi: 10.1007/s11605-006-0066-y.


In the megaesophagus of Chagas' disease, chronic esophagitis is caused by stasis of swallowed food and saliva. In this environment, the overgrowth of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, including nitrate-reducing bacteria, is observed. The reduction of nitrate into nitrite by the action of these bacteria has been associated with the formation of volatile nitrosamines in different situations of gastric bacterial overgrowth. We have hypothesized that this phenomenon could occur in the esophageal lumen of patients with megaesophagus. To evaluate the concentration of nitrite, the presence of volatile nitrosamines and the concentration of nitrate-reducing bacteria in the esophageal lumen of patients with non-advanced megaesophagus of Chagas' disease and in a group of patients without esophageal disease. Fifteen patients with non-advanced megaesophagus [megaesophagus group (MG)] and 15 patients without any esophageal disease [control group (CG)] were studied. Saliva samples were taken for nitrate and nitrite quantitative determination and esophageal stasis liquid samples were taken for nitrate and nitrite quantitative determination, volatile nitrosamines qualitative determination and reductive bacteria quantitative determination. MG and CG were equivalent in nitrate and nitrite saliva concentration and in nitrate esophageal concentration. Significant difference was found in nitrite (p = 0.003) and reductive bacteria concentration (p < 0.0001), both higher in MG. Volatile nitrosamines were identified in three MG patients and in none of the CG patients, but this was not significant (p = 0.113). There is a higher concentration of reductive bacteria in MG, responsible for the rise in nitrite concentration at the esophageal lumen and, eventually, for the formation of volatile nitrosamines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Chagas Disease / complications
  • Chagas Disease / microbiology*
  • Esophageal Achalasia / complications
  • Esophageal Achalasia / microbiology*
  • Esophagus / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitrites / metabolism*
  • Nitrosamines / metabolism
  • Saliva / chemistry


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Nitrosamines