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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1997 Apr;11 Suppl 1:27-33.

The actions of bismuth in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection.

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Gastrointestinal Sciences Department, Mornington Peninsula Hospital, Frankston, Australia.


Bismuth salts have been used in medicine for over three centuries, particularly in the treatment of dyspepsia. Commonly used agents include colloidal bismuth subcitrate (CBS), bismuth subsalicylate (BSS) and the newer ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC). These are safe drugs which exert local effects on the gastroduodenal mucosa. Gastric mucosal levels of bismuth exceed the concentrations required to kill Helicobacter pylori in vitro. The mechanisms of actions of bismuth on gastrointestinal pathogens including H. pylori are complex and include inhibition of protein and cell wall synthesis, membrane function and ATP synthesis. Adherence of H. pylori to surface epithelial cells is also impaired. Bismuth monotherapy is effective in vivo to suppress H. pylori but cure rates are low. CBS, BSS and RBC have synergistic activity with one or two antibiotics and are effective in eradicating H. pylori. CBS and RBC also exert other effects on the mucosa including cytoprotective and ulcer healing properties. In addition, RBC is effective in inhibiting gastric acid secretion.

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