Background  Gastrokine 1 (GKN1), one of the most abundant transcripts in normal stomach, is down-regulated by Helicobacter pylori infection. Aspirin (ASA), which is often used for secondary prevention of cardiovascular events, can damage gastric-duodenal mucosa within 1 or 2 h of ingestion.

Aim  To study the gastric mucosal expression of GKN1 during acute low-dose ASA consumption.

Methods  Ten H. pylori-negative human volunteers took 100 mg ASA per day for 1 week, and underwent multiple upper GI endoscopies. GKN1 expression was analysed in antral and corpus mucosa by quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, western blot and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Gastric mucosal damage was detected endoscopically and histologically.

Results  Gastrokine 1 was similarly expressed in both antral and corpus mucosa. The use of low-dose ASA led to a significant decrease (3.07 a.u. vs. 0.23 a.u., < 0.001) in antrum at day 7, while GKN1 transcript levels in corpus mucosa were slightly elevated (twofold, < 0.005). Western blot and IHC confirmed these changes at the protein level. Furthermore, IHC revealed a vesicular staining pattern in the cytoplasm for GKN1 that was confirmed by transfected human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line expressing GKN1.

Conclusion  Our data demonstrated that low-dose ASA downregulates GKN1 expression specifically in antral mucosa.