Appropriate management of Helicobacter pylori infection of the human stomach is evolving and remains a significant clinical challenge. Acute infection results in hypochlorhydria, whereas chronic infection results in either hypo- or hyperchlorhydria, depending upon the anatomic site of infection. Acute hypochlorhydria facilitates survival of the bacterium and its infection of the stomach. Interestingly, most patients chronically infected with H. pylori manifest a pangastritis with reduced acid secretion due to bacterial virulence factors, inflammatory cytokines, and various degrees of gastric atrophy. While these patients are predisposed to develop gastric adenocarcinoma (~1%), there is increasing evidence from population studies that they are also protected from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett's esophagus (BE), and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Eradication of H. pylori, in these patients, may provoke GERD in predisposed individuals and may be a contributory factor for the rising incidence of refractory GERD, BE, and EAC observed in Westernized societies. Only ~10% of chronically infected patients, mainly the young, manifest an antral predominant gastritis with increased acid secretion due to a decrease in somatostatin and increase in gastrin secretion; these patients are predisposed to develop peptic ulcer disease. H. pylori-induced changes in acid secretion, in particular hypochlorhydria, may allow ingested microorganisms to survive transit through the stomach and colonize the distal intestine and colon. Such perturbation of gut microbiota, i.e. dysbiosis, may influence human health and disease.
Keywords: Acid secretion; CagA; GERD; Gastric cancer; Gastric physiology; H,K-ATPase; Helicobacter pylori; Parietal cell.