Review article: factors protecting the oesophagus against acid-mediated injury

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1995 Jun;9(3):251-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.1995.tb00379.x.


Reflux of gastric acid and pepsins into the lower oesophagus causes symptoms such as heartburn and nausea, and tissue injury leading to erosive oesophagitis and stricture formation. This article reviews the mechanisms involved in protecting the oesophagus against acid-mediated injury, including the role of the lower oesophageal sphincter, secondary oesophageal peristalsis and swallowed saliva. The oesophageal mucosa has inherent abilities to resist acid damage, and recent data from three laboratories suggest a secretory function with local production of bicarbonate and mucus responsive to local acidification. The evidence for these putative oesophageal defence mechanisms is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / prevention & control*
  • Esophagus / physiology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Mucous Membrane / physiology
  • Saliva / metabolism


  • Epidermal Growth Factor