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Non-endoscopic diagnosis of atrophic gastritis with a blood test. Correlation between gastric histology and serum levels of gastrin-17 and pepsinogen I: a multicentre study.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Serum levels of gastrin-17 (S-G-17) and pepsinogen I (S-PGI) are biomarkers of gastric antral and corpus mucosa, respectively. In a prospective multicentre investigation, we determined whether these tests, together with the assay of Helicobacter pylori antibodies, are a non-endoscopic tool for the diagnosis of atrophic gastritis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The series comprised 404 consecutive adult outpatients undergoing diagnostic upper-gastrointestinal endoscopy for various dyspeptic symptoms in five outpatient clinics. Gastric biopsies from the antrum and corpus (at least two biopsies from both sites) were available from all patients, and they were evaluated according to the guidelines of the updated Sydney system. S-PGI and S-G-17 were assayed with ELISA methods using monoclonal antibodies to pepsinogen I and amidated gastrin-17. In addition to the fasting level (S-G-17(fast)), a postprandial S-G-17 (S-G-17(prand)) level was measured 20 min after ingestion of a protein-rich drink. H. pylori antibodies were determined using a polyclonal EIA method.

RESULTS: S-G-17(prand) (and S-G-17(fast)) and S-PGI levels decreased with increasing grade of atrophy of the antrum or corpus, respectively. S-G-17(prand) levels were significantly lower in patients with advanced (moderate or severe) atrophic antral H. pylori gastritis than in those with non-atrophic H. pylori gastritis. All patients with a resected antrum demonstrated S-G-17(prand) levels that were almost undetectable. Of the nine patients with an H. pylori-positive moderate or severe atrophic antral gastritis, six had S-G-17(prand) levels below 5 pmol/l. Similarly, S-PGI levels were significantly lower in patients with advanced corpus atrophy than in those without. Of the 45 patients with moderate or severe corpus atrophy in endoscopic biopsies, 35 patients had S-PGI levels < 25 microg/l. By using the cut-off levels for S-G-17(prand) and S-PGI with the best discrimination, the sensitivity and specificity of the blood test panel in delineation of patients with advanced atrophic gastritis (either in the antrum or the corpus, or both) were 83% and 95%, respectively. The predictive values of the positive and negative test results were 75% and 97%, respectively. In the diagnosis of atrophic gastritis, the application of S-G-17(fast) showed a slightly lower sensitivity and specificity than the application of S-G-17(prand) as a biomarker for antral atrophy.

CONCLUSIONS: The diagnosis of atrophic gastritis obtained with the blood test panel of S-G-17, S-PGI and H. pylori antibodies is in good agreement with the endoscopic and biopsy findings. The panel is a tool for non-endoscopic diagnosis and screening of atrophic gastritis.

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