Background/aim: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is the result of an autoimmune destruction of pancreatic Langerhans beta cells. Helicobacter pylori infection, the most common cause of gastritis and peptic ulcer, has been associated with some autoimmune diseases. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of H. pylori infection and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in patients with IDDM.
Methods: 116 patients (50 males and 66 females, mean age: 35 +/- 11 years) affected by IDDM were evaluated; 50 healthy subjects matched for age and sex were utilized as a control group. H. pylori infection was determined by a [13C]urea breath test. IDDM duration, daily dosage of insulin and prevalence of GI symptoms (bloating, pyrosis, epigastric pain, belching, halitosis, nausea) were assessed.
Results: The prevalence of H. pylori infection was similar in IDDM patients and in controls (37 vs 34%, respectively). In both groups, the mean age was higher in infected subjects. The mean IDDM duration was significantly greater in infected patients (19 +/- 12 vs 13 +/- 10 years, P < 0.006). Prevalence of infection was directly related to the duration of IDDM (<1 year, 23%; 1-3 years, 32%; >3 years, 40%). The daily dosage of insulin did not differ between infected and non-infected subjects. H. pylori contaminated patients showed a significantly higher prevalence of bloating, pyrosis and epigastric pain when compared with non-infected subjects; conversely, prevalence of belching, halitosis and nausea did not differ between groups.
Conclusion: The prevalence of H. pylori infection is high in patients affected by IDDM; however, it does not differ from the infection rate observed in a control group. The rate of infection increases with IDDM duration. Bloating, pyrosis and epigastric pain appear to define infection status better.