Helicobacter pylori associated duodenal ulcers occur in patches of gastric metaplasia. The pathogenesis of gastric metaplasia is unclear, but it has been produced in experimental animals by acute injury and has been shown to be present to a greater extent of H pylori positive subjects. This study aimed to discover if gastric metaplasia regressed with eradication of H pylori or healing of duodenal ulcers, or both. Thirty two duodenal ulcer patients with H pylori infection confirmed by biopsy urease test and by antral histological examination were studied. Patients were treated with triple therapy (deNol 240 mg twice daily, amoxycillin 500 mg three times daily, and metronidazole 400 mg three times daily) for two weeks after the first endoscopy and were subsequently re-endoscoped. Three duodenal bulb biopsy specimens were obtained per patient at each endoscopy. Biopsy sections were stained with haematoxylin and eosin to determine the severity of duodenitis, and with diastase periodic acid-Schiff/alcian blue to assess the extent of gastric metaplasia. Slides were assessed by two histopathologists unaware of treatment status. H pylori was eradicated in 63% of subjects and all ulcers were healed at follow up. The median extent of gastric metaplasia at the start of treatment and 6-18 months (median 10) after treatment was compared in the two groups. Gastric metaplasia declined in eradicators from 16% to 8% (p < 0.05) while in non-eradicators there was no significant change (25% initially and at follow up). A positive relation between extent of gastric metaplasia and duodenal inflammation score was present before treatment (r(s) = 0.74, p < 0.001) and was unchanged after treatment in the non-eradicator group (r(s) = 0.89, p < 0.001). In the eradicator group, however, the inflammation score had significantly declined (p < 0.02) and the close relation with gastric metaplasia was no longer present. These results suggest that H pylori itself is at least in part responsible for producing gastric metaplasia of the duodenum.
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