Objective: As Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with an elevation in plasma gastrin with normal antral gastrin cell counts, an abnormality in antral somatostatin cells may be associated with the infection. We evaluated the effect of eradication of H. pylori on antral somatostatin cell density in the light of antral gastrin cell density and plasma gastrin levels.
Design: Prospective study.
Methods: Of 25 dyspeptic patients with H. pylori infection, nine had H. pylori successfully eradicated and the rest remained infected. Antral biopsies were immunostained for somatostatin cells and plasma gastrin measured before and 4 weeks after H. pylori eradication therapy. Ten other dyspeptic patients without H. pylori infection had their somatostatin cell density evaluated as controls.
Results: Somatostatin cell density in the patients without H. pylori infection at the outset was significantly higher than that in the patients with H. pylori infection at the outset (median 57 [18-83] vs. 37 [6-80] cells/mm) respectively (P <0.05). Somatostatin cell density increased after H. pylori eradication (before treatment, median 50 [15-72]; after treatment 71 [39-107] cells/mm) (P < 0.05) but was unchanged with persistent H. pylori infection. Plasma gastrin decreased after H. pylori eradication (before treatment, median 70 [45-100]; after treatment 30 [10-100] ng/l) (P < 0.05) but was unchanged with persistent H. pylori infection.
Conclusions: Following eradication of H. pylori, there is an increase in somatostatin cell density with a fall in plasma gastrin. This supports the theory that H. pylori infection results in a decrease in somatostatin cell density and, as the latter is an inhibitor of gastrin cells, this results in an increased plasma gastrin.