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Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Sep;94(9):2398-402.

Increase in apoptosis and decrease in ornithine decarboxylase activity of the gastric mucosa in patients with atrophic gastritis and gastric ulcer after successful eradication of Helicobacter pylori.

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Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology, Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases, Japan.



Recent reports have shown that patients infected with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) have a higher risk of gastric cancer. However, the mechanism of this increased risk is still unclear. In the gastric mucosa, the size of a continuously renewed population of cells is determined by the rates of cell production and of cell loss. Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity is elevated in various gastrointestinal cancers and serves as a marker of mucosal proliferative activity. Apoptosis occurs throughout the gut and is associated with cell loss. Both cell proliferation and cell loss have important roles in H. pylori-associated gastric carcinogenesis. Therefore, we investigated the effect of H. pylori eradication on ODC activity and apoptosis in the gastric mucosa of patients with atrophic gastritis and gastric ulcers.


Biopsy specimens of the gastric antrum were obtained at endoscopy from 17 H. pylori-positive gastric ulcers patients and 15 H. pylori-positive gastritis patients before and 4 wk after eradication therapy with amoxicillin, omeprazole, and a new anti-ulcer agent, ecabet sodium, and from 10 gastric ulcer patients in whom ulcer healed but H. pylori was left untreated. ODC activity and induction of apoptosis were determined immunohistochemically.


H. pylori was successfully eradicated with the triple therapy in 12 (80%) of 15 gastritis patients and 13 (76%) of 17 gastric ulcer patients. ODC activity was present in the gastric mucosa in 21 (84%) patients before eradication but in only four (16%) patients after successful eradication (p = 0.0005). The apoptotic index increased significantly (p = 0.0006) from 4.2% +/- 0.4% before treatment to 7.4% +/- 0.5% after successful eradication.


Successful eradication of H. pylori decreases mucosal ODC activity and increases apoptosis in the gastric mucosa. These findings indicate that by decreasing mucosal cell proliferation and increasing epithelial cell loss, H. pylori eradication may help decrease the subsequent risk of gastric cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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