Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection and histologic gastritis in asymptomatic persons

N Engl J Med. 1989 Dec 7;321(23):1562-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198912073212302.


We estimated the prevalences of Helicobacter pylori (formerly called Campylobacter pylori) infection and histologic gastritis in 113 asymptomatic persons, using endoscopic biopsy of the gastric antrum and corpus. Unsuspected lesions, mainly mucosal erosions, were revealed at endoscopy in 16 subjects (14 percent). Gastritis was found in 42 subjects (37 percent), of whom 36 (32 percent of the total) were found to be infected with H. pylori on the basis of hematoxylin-eosin staining. H. pylori was not found in any of the 71 subjects with normal histologic features. Gastritis and H. pylori were noted in both the antrum and corpus in 75 percent of those infected (n = 27). The prevalence of H. pylori infection increased from 10 percent (2 of 20 subjects) in those between the ages of 18 and 29, to 47 percent (7 of 15) in those between the ages of 60 and 69, but the effect of age did not reach statistical significance. The prevalence of gastritis increased significantly with advancing age. Stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed that the relative risk for H. pylori infection associated with recent (within six months) antibiotic use was 5.8 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.5 to 22.1), whereas the relative risk was 6.5 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 29.2) for those who had never used bismuth compounds. We conclude that histologic gastritis and H. pylori infection commonly occur in the stomach of apparently normal persons and increase in prevalence with advancing age. All the subjects with H. pylori infection had gastritis, suggesting a possible etiologic role for the bacterium in the histologic lesion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification
  • Campylobacter Infections / diagnosis
  • Campylobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Gastritis / diagnosis
  • Gastritis / epidemiology*
  • Gastroscopy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pyloric Antrum / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach / pathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents