In a series of 24 hour studies, intragastric acidity and plasma gastrin concentration were measured simultaneously in 46 healthy subjects before, during, and 24 to 48 hours after abrupt withdrawal of a histamine H2 receptor antagonist regimen. For 34 days subjects were given either cimetidine 800 mg at night (n = 8), ranitidine 150 mg twice daily (n = 10), ranitidine 300 mg at night (n = 12), nizatidine 300 mg at night (n = 8), or famotidine 40 mg at night (n = 8). All subjects responded to H2 blockade by a decrease in 24 hour intragastric acidity. Withdrawal of H2 blockade resulted in a significant rise in median nocturnal integrated intragastric acidity in 42 of 46 subjects (+36%; 95% CI +19, +55%) compared with prestudy values, but this rise was not associated with a significant change in the median integrated plasma gastrin concentration (+1%; 95% CI -12, +13%). A statistically significant rise in nocturnal acidity was observed after all regimens, except after dosing with famotidine. After stopping, median daytime integrated acidity and plasma gastrin concentrations in the whole group were raised, but not significantly: values were +15% (95% CI +4, +34%) and +5% (95% CI -2, +12%), respectively. A statistically significant increase in daytime acidity was observed only after dosing with ranitidine. In conclusion, intragastric hyperacidity occurs in most subjects after abrupt withdrawal of a histamine H2 receptor blocker, but this phenomenon is not associated with hypergastrinaemia.
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