Helicobacter pylori Infection in Children with Antral Gastrin Cell Hyperfunction

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SummaryAntral gastrin cell hyperfunction (AGCH) is a rare syndrome characterized by persistent hypergastrinemia and important peptic symptoms in the absence of a gastrin-producing tumor. The pathogenesis of AGCH is still unknown and debated. Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection has been reported as a possible cause of sustained hypergastrinemia. To assess the relevance of Hp infection in pediatric AGCH patients, Hp status, G cell function, acid secretion, and antral G and D cell populations were investigated in six children presenting with gastrointestinal bleeding of unknown origin, sideropenic anemia, and variable abdominal symptoms. All patients had moderate high basal gastrinemia with abnormally increased peak values after meals and elevated values of basal acid output (BAO), maximal acid output (MAO), and pentagastrin-stimulated acid output (PAO). Circulating pepsinogen I was also significantly increased. Three children had Hp infection, as assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, urease test, and histology. Endoscopy showed duodenal erosions in three children, with ulcer in two Hp-positive cases. At histology, moderate gastritis was observed only in the three Hp-positive cases. In all patients, quantitative assessment of antral gastrin and somatostatin cells gave significantly elevated G cell counts; D cells were at the lower reference limit and the G/D cell ratio was significantly elevated. These data indicated a diagnosis of AGCH, possibly due to the elevated G/D cell ratio, and suggest HP infection as an overlapping factor complicating the clinical picture in some cases.

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