Background : The reason why heartburn in gastro-oesophageal reflux disease subjects without oesophagitis is less responsive to proton pump inhibitors than heartburn in those with erosive oesophagitis is not known.
Methods : Gastric and oesophageal pH were determined in 26 subjects with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease at baseline and on days 1, 2 and 8 of treatment with 20 mg omeprazole or 20 mg rabeprazole in a randomized, two-way cross-over fashion. The presence or absence of erosive oesophagitis at baseline was documented by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.
Results : At a given value of the integrated gastric acidity during treatment with a proton pump inhibitor, the probability of pathological oesophageal reflux was significantly higher in subjects with no oesophagitis than in those with erosive oesophagitis. This occurred because the post-prandial gastric acidity in subjects with no oesophagitis showed a decreased response to the antisecretory agent.
Conclusions : Compared with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease subjects with erosive oesophagitis, those with no oesophagitis are relatively refractory to the pharmacodynamic effects of proton pump inhibitors on the post-prandial integrated gastric acidity.