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Effect of increasing Helicobacter pylori ammonia production by urea infusion on plasma gastrin concentrations.
  1. R S Chittajallu,
  2. W D Neithercut,
  3. A M Macdonald,
  4. K E McColl
  1. University Department of Medicine, Western Infirmary, Glasgow.


    It has been proposed that the hypergastrinaemia in subjects with Helicobacter pylori infection is caused by the action of the ammonia produced by the organism's urease activity on the antral G cells. To investigate this hypothesis we examined the effect on plasma gastrin of increasing the bacterium's ammonia production by infusing urea intragastrically to eight H pylori positive duodenal ulcer patients. After a 60 minute control intragastric infusion of dextrose solution at 2 ml/minute, a similar infusion containing urea (50 mmol/l) was continued for four hours. During the urea infusion, the median gastric juice urea concentration rose from 1.1 mmol/l (range 0.3-1.6) to 15.5 mmol/l (range 7.9-21.3) and this resulted in an increase in the ammonium concentration from 2.3 mmol/l (range 1.3-5.9) to 6.1 mmol/l (range 4.2-11.9) (p less than 0.01). This appreciable rise in ammonia production did not result in any change in the plasma gastrin concentration. The experiment was repeated one month after eradication of H pylori, at which time the median basal gastrin was 20 ng/l (range 15-25), significantly less than the value before eradication (30 ng/l range 15-60) (p less than 0.05). On this occasion, the gastric juice ammonium concentration was considerably reduced at 0.4 mmol/l (range 0.1-0.9) and the urea infusion did not raise the ammonium concentration or change the plasma gastrin concentration. In conclusion, augmenting H pylori ammonia production does not cause any early change in plasma gastrin.

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