Background: Circulating pepsinogens can indicate atrophic gastritis, a precursor of gastric cancer. We tested the association between gastric cancer and plasma pepsinogens and antibodies against Helicobacter pylori in a case-control study nested in a prospective cohort.
Methods: We selected 141 gastric cancer cases and 282 incidence-density sampled controls. Plasma concentrations of pepsinogens 1 and 2 were measured using ELISA kits, and anti-H. pylori antibodies were measured using a kit specific to Chinese strains. Associations were estimated using conditional logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders.
Results: Gastric cancer subjects were more likely to be anti-H. pylori positive than controls, 97 vs 92%. A plasma pepsinogen 1 (PG1) concentration <50 ng ml(-1) (15% of cases) was associated with a significantly increased risk of gastric cancer (OR 4.23; (95% CI: 1.86-9.63), whereas a plasma pepsinogen 2 (PG2) concentration >6.6 ng ml(-1) (75% of cases) was also associated with a significantly increased risk of gastric cancer (OR 3.62; (95% CI: 1.85-7.09). We also found that the PG1 : 2 ratio had a nearly linear association with gastric cancer risk.
Conclusion: Lower plasma PG1 : 2 ratios are associated with a higher risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, it appears that circulating pepsinogens 1 and 2 may be independently associated with the risk of gastric cancer.