Background & aims: Gastrin-releasing peptide stimulates gastrin secretion but also inhibits its release via somatostatin. Exogenous gastrin-releasing peptide stimulates a greater increase in plasma gastrin concentrations in patients infected with Helicobacter pylori than in uninfected controls. Because this infection suppressed gastric mucosal somatostatin, we studied whether the increased gastrin response was a result of an abnormal response of the somatostatin cell.
Methods: Patients without dyspeptic ulcers received an infusion of either gastrin-releasing peptide or saline on separate occasions. Acid secretion was measured, and gastric biopsy specimens were taken for gastrin and somatostatin messenger RNA (mRNA) analysis and H. pylori diagnosis.
Results: In response to gastrin-releasing peptide, the increase in plasma gastrin concentrations in the infected patients was significantly higher than in the uninfected. Antral gastrin mRNA also increased significantly in the infected group but decreased significantly in the uninfected group. Basal somatostatin was lower in the infected group; gastrin-releasing peptide produced a significant increase in antral somatostatin mRNA concentration in infected, but not uninfected, patients.
Conclusions: The somatostatin cell responds to gastrin-releasing peptide in H. pylori infection. Gastrin-releasing peptide normally inhibits gastrin mRNA expression, but inhibition is deficient in H. pylori infection, possibly because of low stimulated somatostatin levels.