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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 26;8(7):e69891. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069891. Print 2013.

Background factors of reflux esophagitis and non-erosive reflux disease: a cross-sectional study of 10,837 subjects in Japan.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.



Despite the high prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), its risk factors are still a subject of controversy. This is probably due to inadequate distinction between reflux esophagitis (RE) and non-erosive reflux disease (NERD), and is also due to inadequate evaluation of adjacent stomach. Our aim is therefore to define background factors of RE and NERD independently, based on the evaluation of Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric atrophy.


We analyzed 10,837 healthy Japanese subjects (6,332 men and 4,505 women, aged 20-87 years) who underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. RE was diagnosed as the presence of mucosal break, and NERD was diagnosed as the presence of heartburn and/or acid regurgitation in RE-free subjects. Using GERD-free subjects as control, background factors for RE and NERD were separately analyzed using logistic regression to evaluate standardized coefficients (SC), odds ratio (OR), and p-value.


Of the 10,837 study subjects, we diagnosed 733 (6.8%) as RE and 1,722 (15.9%) as NERD. For RE, male gender (SC = 0.557, OR = 1.75), HP non-infection (SC = 0.552, OR = 1.74), higher pepsinogen I/II ratio (SC = 0.496, OR = 1.64), higher BMI (SC = 0.464, OR = 1.60), alcohol drinking (SC = 0.161, OR = 1.17), older age (SC = 0.148, OR = 1.16), and smoking (SC = 0.129, OR = 1.14) are positively correlated factors. For NERD, HP infection (SC = 0.106, OR = 1.11), female gender (SC = 0.099, OR = 1.10), younger age (SC = 0.099, OR = 1.10), higher pepsinogen I/II ratio (SC = 0.099, OR = 1.10), smoking (SC = 0.080, OR = 1.08), higher BMI (SC = 0.078, OR = 1.08), and alcohol drinking (SC = 0.076, OR = 1.08) are positively correlated factors. Prevalence of RE in subjects with chronic HP infection and successful HP eradication denotes significant difference (2.3% and 8.8%; p<0.0001), whereas that of NERD shows no difference (18.2% and 20.8%; p = 0.064).


Significantly associated factors of NERD are considerably different from those of RE, indicating that these two disorders are pathophysiologically distinct. Eradication of Helicobacter pylori may have disadvantageous effects on RE but not on NERD.

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