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Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Apr;34(4):270-8.

Progression of gastric enterochromaffin-like cells growth in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and atrophic body gastritis patients.

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Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, 2nd School of Medicine, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.



Enterochromaffin-like cell hyperplasia of the gastric body mucosa occurs in hypergastrinaemic conditions such as atrophic body gastritis and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. However, the time course of change or factors involved are not known.


To compare the rate of change of enterochromaffin-like cell proliferation in patients with atrophic body gastritis and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.


From a consecutive series of atrophic body gastritis and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome patients, studied at the time of first diagnosis, 10 atrophic body gastritis (4 with pernicious anaemia) and 14 Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (4 with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1) patients were followed-up for a median time of 48 months.


At entry and during follow-up patients underwent: plasma gastrin determination, endoscopic sampling of body mucosa for qualitative assessment of enterochromaffin-like cell hyperplasia pattern and degree of glandular atrophy, qualitative and morphometric analyses of body mucosa endocrine cells.


At time of diagnosis, enterochromaffin-like cell lesions were more severe in atrophic body gastritis than in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. During follow-up, no significant variations were observed in gastrin values, enterochromaffin-like cell patterns and grade of body mucosa atrophy in atrophic body gastritis. In contrast, gastrin levels were significantly increased [median 1200 (235-2625) vs 1947 (225-5200) pg/ml; p<0.001)] as was total volume density of enterochromaffin-like cells [median 1.60 (0.53-4.06) vs 3.18 (1.35-21.13)% of mucosal epithelial component; (p<0.005)] in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Micronodular hyperplasia of enterochromaffin-like cells, present in only one patient at diagnosis, was observed in 8 Zollinger-Ellison syndrome patients at follow-up.


These data suggest that the progression of enterochromaffin-like cell growth in human gastric mucosa requires an increase of and/or a prolonged exposure to severe hypergastrinaemia.

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