A commercial panel of assays provides an algorithm, which indicates stomach health and the function of the gastric mucosa.
The assay, known as GastroPanel, is performed with a simple blood test that can be used to assess the condition of the gastric mucosa and to confirm the diagnosis of hypochlorhydria and indicate whether the changes in the mucosa are due to a chronic inflammatory condition.
The scientists at Quest Diagnostics (Heaton, UK) have used GastroPanel to examine 181 patients whose ages ranged from 19 to 75 years, with a median of 41 years. Of these, 105 (60.7%) were Japanese, 53 (30.6%) were European, and the remaining 15 (8.7%) were an assortment of ethnicities. Of particular note among the Japanese group was the receipt of samples from 23 husband and wife couples. GastroPanel evaluates for pepsinogen I and II, gastrin 17, and antibodies to Helicobacter pylori infection, but does not identify the organism.
Of the 181 samples tested by the GastroPanel (Biohit Oyj; Helsinki, Finland), 115 (68.4%) showed no abnormalities in the samples and were reported as normal function of gastric mucosa. Thirty-six samples (20.7%) were positive for H. pylori alone and a report was issued with a recommendation to return to their doctor and start an appropriate course of antibiotics. The remaining 30 samples showed a range of abnormal results. Only 27 (14.9%) patients were over 50 years of age, 18 of which were reported as normal, four were positive for H. pylori alone, four showed increased pepsinogen I levels and the last sample, from a 51-year-old Japanese woman, was positive for both H. pylori and pepsinogen I.
The authors concluded that the GastroPanel assay can be used to diagnose H. pylori infection and atrophic gastritis, and to estimate the risks associated with these conditions. Approximately half of the gastroscopies performed show healthy gastric mucosa and therefore the GastroPanel assay could save the patient from unnecessary discomfort and also reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. The study was published in December 2012 in the British Journal of Biomedical Science.