Is Helicobacter pylori infection associated with chronic idiopathic urticaria?

A Moreira, J Rodrigues, L Delgado, J Fonseca, M Vaz
Allergologia et Immunopathologia 2003, 31 (4): 209-14

BACKGROUND: Chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) is one of the most frequent skin diseases, however its causes remain unknown in the vast majority of cases. There is increasing evidence for systemic effects of gastric Helicobacter pylori infection, which may result in extra gastrointestinal disorders. Although CIU can result from several causes, a possible relationship between chronic urticaria and Helicobacter pylori has been recently suggested.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in a series of patients with CIU, and measure the effectiveness of eradication therapy on the skin disease.

METHOD: We assess Helicobacter pylori infection by 13C urea breath test (UBT) in 21 CIU patients. Amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and omeprazole were given to infected patients for seven days. The results of therapy were assessed by urea breath test one month after therapy. Urticaria and gastrointestinal symptoms were assessed on enrolment and for six months after eradication.

RESULTS: Prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection was of 71.4 % (15/21). There were no differences concerning age (31.83 vs. 33.82 years) and duration of symptoms (38.40 vs. 35.38 months) in patients with respectively positive and negative UBT. Helicobacter pylori eradication rate was of 80 % (12/14). Three patients had clinical improvement with total resolution of urticaria starting immediately after eradication therapy, being able to completely withdrawn antihistamine and corticosteroids therapy without complaints. In relation to the rest of the patients, these three had smaller duration of urticaria disease (14.3 vs. 43.7 months; p = 0.038) and greater titters in the UBT results (42.39 vs. 25.81; p = 0.073).

DISCUSSION: Although some authors found convincing evidence of the involvement of Helicobacter pylori as one possible cause of chronic urticaria, our results have failed to confirm the existence of this etiological association. The most remarkable finding was that those patients who had clinical remission of disease were the ones with greater UBT titters suggesting a role for the amount of colonization by Hp in the pathogenesis of urticaria disease.

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