To evaluate the possible relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric carcinoma, and its precursor lesion, intestinal metaplasia, in a Japanese population.
H. pylori infection was identified by the presence of anti-H. pylori immunoglobulin (Ig)G. The frequency of H. pylori infection was compared in 109 patients with gastric carcinoma, the same number of patients with atrophic gastritis and asymptomatic controls matched for age, sex and place of birth. To study the relation between H. pylori and intestinal metaplasia, sera and gastric antral and corpus mucosal biopsies were obtained from 58 asymptomatic controls, 92 patients with chronic gastritis and 80 patients with peptic ulcer.
The presence of IgG antibody to H. pylori was significantly more frequent in those with gastric carcinoma than in asymptomatic controls (87.2 versus 74.3%; odds ratio 2.4; 95% confidence interval 1.2-4.8). The positive rates of H. pylori IgG antibody were 80.7% in patients with atrophic gastritis. Mean serum gastrin and pepsinogen II levels in H. pylori-positive patients were higher than those in H. pylori-negative patients. Serum gastrin and pepsinogen I levels were significantly higher in controls than gastric carcinoma patients (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). Serum pepsinogen I:II ratios were significantly lower in controls than in gastric carcinoma patients (P < 0.01). Intestinal metaplasia was strongly associated with H. pylori infection, and was only found in patients with IgG antibodies to H. pylori.
These results suggest that H. pylori infection is associated with the development of gastric cancer by providing a suitable environment for carcinogenesis of the gastric mucosa, such as gastric atrophy and intestinal metaplasia.