Background & aims: We have identified a subgroup of Helicobacter pylori-infected subjects with low or absent gastric acid output. The aim of this study was to document the morphological and functional abnormalities in these subjects and to assess the effect of eradicating the infection.
Methods: The 16 hypochlorhydric subjects (6 men) had a mean age of 55 years (range, 36-79 years). They underwent a 14C-urea breath test, H. pylori serology, fasting gastrin, gastric autoantibodies, gastroscopy with antral and body biopsies, and measurement of peak acid output to pentagastrin (PAO(PG)). Their histology was compared with that of age- and sex-matched duodenal ulcer and nonulcer dyspepsia patients (16 each). H. pylori infection was eradicated in the hypochlorhydric subjects, and the investigations were repeated 6 months later.
Results: Compared with controls, the hypochlorhydric subjects had less dense H. pylori colonization, body-predominant colonization and gastritis, and increased prevalence of body atrophy and intestinal metaplasia. Median PAO(PG) before eradication in the hypochlorhydric subjects was 1.1 mmol/h and increased to 12.6 mmol/h after eradication (P < 0.001), with no significant change in body atrophy or intestinal metaplasia.
Conclusions: In some subjects, chronic H. pylori infection produces a body-predominant gastritis and profound suppression of gastric acid secretion that is partially reversible with eradication therapy.