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Pain in the gut? Don't blame stomach acid

ant says physicians may want to re-evaluate the long-term use of omeprazole and other proton-pump-inhibiting drugs in their patients.

Together with Yana Zavros, Ph.D., an HHMI post-doctoral fellow, Merchant and colleagues compared stomach cells from normal mice with those from a strain of transgenic mice, developed at U-M, that lack the gene for producing gastrin. Their goal was to understand the feedback relationship between bacteria, pro-inflammatory factors, hormones and acid secretion in the stomach. Results are published in the January 2002 issues of Gastroenterology and The American Journal of Physiology.

Mice in the U-M studies contracted gastritis just like people do - from eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria. While 75 percent of people with gastritis test positive for Helicobacter pylori, many other species of bacteria can trigger inflammatory changes, too, and often co-exist with Helicobacter. No matter what type of bacteria causes the problem, it is a serious medical condition. If untreated, chronic gastritis can lead to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

H. pylori is the only bacterial organism in the stomach that cannot be killed by hydrochloric acid. Since Merchant wanted to study the relationship between other bacteria and gastric acid, she needed to exclude the presence of H. pylori. U-M scientists cultured and analyzed bacteria from stomach washings of all normal and gastrin-deficient mice to confirm the absence of Helicobacter. Major types of bacteria identified included Lactobacillus, Enterobacter and Staphylococcus.

U-M scientists treated infected gastrin-deficient mice and normal control mice with antibiotics for 20 days. Other mice were treated for two months with a proton-pump-inhibiting drug called omeprazole or with a combination of omeprazole and antibiotics. At the end of the treatment period, researchers compared cell changes and bacterial counts from the stomach linings of all mice.
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Contact: Sally Pobojewski
pobo@umich.edu
734-615-6912
University of Michigan Health System
15-Jan-2002


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