Fasting gastric juice pH and concentrations of vitamin C in gastric aspirate and plasma were measured in 73 patients undergoing endoscopy. Vitamin C concentrations were significantly lower in those with hypochlorhydria (pH greater than 4; n = 23) compared with those with pH less than or equal to 4 (p less than 0.005) and there was a significant correlation between gastric juice and plasma concentrations (p = 0.002). Patients with normal endoscopic findings had significantly higher intragastric concentrations of vitamin C than those with gastric cancer (p less than 0.001), pernicious anaemia (p less than 0.005), gastric ulcer (p less than 0.01), duodenal ulcer (p less than 0.05), or after gastric surgery (p less than 0.01). There was a strong trend (0.05 less than p less than 0.1) towards lower intragastric concentrations of vitamin C in patients with chronic atrophic gastritis. In vitro, vitamin C concentrations remained stable in acidic but fell significantly over 24 hours in alkaline gastric aspirate. Gastric secretory studies in five volunteers showed that vitamin C concentrations increased significantly after intramuscular pentagastrin. These findings suggest that the low fasting levels of vitamin C in hypochlorhydric gastric juice may be caused by chemical instability and that vitamin C may be secreted by the human stomach.
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