Examination on Factors Affecting Symptom Change after Drug Withdrawal in Patients with Mild Erosive Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Undergoing Symptom-Controlled Maintenance Therapy with Acid-Secretion Inhibition Drugs

Digestion. 2023;104(4):270-282. doi: 10.1159/000528418. Epub 2023 Jan 17.


Introduction: In patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) on maintenance therapy with acid-suppressive drugs, it is not clear what background factors allow patients to discontinue the drugs. The aims of this study were to examine the relationship of the changes in the frequency and severity of gastrointestinal symptoms after discontinuation of acid-secretion inhibitors for erosive GERD (eGERD) with possible patient background factors and to identify factors that influence these changes.

Methods: This is a multicenter, open-label, interventional, exploratory study. eGERD patients with mild mucosal injury whose symptoms were under control and who were on maintenance therapy with acid-suppressive drugs were withdrawn from the drug treatment for 4 weeks. We examined the relationship of patient backgrounds (sex, age, body mass index, alcohol consumption, smoking habits), esophageal hiatal hernia, Helicobacter pylori infection, pepsinogen I and II concentrations and I/II ratios, blood gastrin levels before and after drug discontinuation with total score change in Frequency Scale for the Symptoms of GERD (FSSG).

Results: Of the 92 patients whose symptoms could be assessed before and after drug withdrawal, 66 patients (71.7% of the total) had FSSG <8 and no symptom relapse after the withdrawal. Furthermore, patient background factors that may be related to symptom relapse/non-relapse were examined, but no related factors were detected. The maintenance medications before discontinuation in the above 92 patients were a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and vonoprazan (VPZ, a potassium ion competitive acid blocker). Since PPI and VPZ were administered to about the same number of patients, though incidentally, we additionally examined the relationship between patient background factors and symptom relapse/non-relapse by treatment group. As a result, no relevant background factors were detected in both groups. Although there were no significant differences between the two groups, the severity and frequency of symptom recurrence in the VPZ group tended to be higher than in the PPI group.

Conclusions: Consideration of background factors is unlikely to be required in the discontinuation of maintenance therapy for eGERD. There was no significant difference in the extent of disease or frequency of recurrence during the discontinuation period, regardless of whether the drug before discontinuation was a PPI or VPZ.

Keywords: Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Proton pump inhibitor; Rebound; Vonoprazan.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / drug therapy
  • Helicobacter Infections* / drug therapy
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Hernia, Hiatal*
  • Humans
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors