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Summary

Background : No current methods exist to determine meal-stimulated gastric acid secretion in humans under conditions that approximate those of daily living with the ingestion of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Methods : Gastric and oesophageal pH were measured in 26 healthy subjects and in 59 subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Meal-stimulated gastric acid secretion was calculated from the buffer capacity of the meals determined in vitro and from the time required for the gastric pH to decrease to pH 2 in vivo following ingestion of the meal.

Results : There was a significant correlation between gastric secretion with each meal and the corresponding post-prandial integrated gastric acidity. There was also a significant correlation between meal-stimulated gastric secretion and integrated gastric acidity from 09.00 to 22.00 h in both subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and controls. In subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gastric secretion and integrated gastric acidity from 09.00 to 22.00 h were significantly higher than those in controls. There was a significant correlation between oesophageal acidity and integrated gastric acidity from 09.00 to 22.00 h in subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

Conclusions : As post-prandial gastric acidity is increased in subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, it seems likely that increased gastric acidity is an important aetiological factor in this disease.