Thirty five subjects underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and multiple biopsy (30 patients, five normal subjects). A total of 11 biopsies per subject from four sites (oesophagus (three), gastric body (two), antrum (three), duodenum (three] were examined for inflammation and the presence of Campylobacter pylori and using standard methods of culture and by light (LM) and electron microscopy (EM). The organism was cultured from oesophageal biopsies in eight of 30 (27%) patients but could not be identified at this site by LM or EM. There was evidence of oesophageal inflammation in 20 patients which was associated with the local finding of C pylori in five (25%) including two of seven (29%) with Barrett's mucosa. Antral C pylori was present in 22 of 23 (96%) patients with chronic active gastritis. The organism was found in the antrum and oesophagus in four of 22 patients (18%), in the antrum and duodenum in four of 22 patients (18%) and in all three sites in a further two of 22 patients (9%). Antral C pylori was found in five of six patients with peptic ulceration. C pylori was cultured from the duodenum in six patients with confirmation by LN and EM in three, but only on areas of gastric metaplasia. The organism was not found in the normal group. This study indicates that C pylori may be irregularly isolated from the oesophagus and duodenum in patients with antral C pylori and chronic active gastritis. The role of C pylori in the oesophagus is most likely that of a commensal or contaminant.
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