Breakdown of mucosal defences in congestive gastropathy in cirrhotics


Gastroenterology Unit, S. Raffaele Hospital, Via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy


ABSTRACT— The gastric mucus-bicarbonate barrier, the first line of mucosal defence, has been evaluated in patients with congestive gastropathy and cirrhosis of the liver. Fourteen cirrhotic patients of both sexes (Child's class A or B), with or without oesophageal varices, but with endoscopic signs of congestive gastropathy, and a matched group of healthy controls were studied. The amount of luminal mucoproteins, a Mucoprotective Index as a qualitative assessment of mucus secretion and the output of gastric bicarbonate were determined in basal conditions. In patients with congestive gastropathy a significant (p<0.01) reduction in all the above parameters was observed, suggesting a substantial impairment of the gastric mucus-bicarbonate barrier. Whether this is an independent phenomenon or a consequence of altered local microcirculation remains to be determined.