Low levels of gastric acid linked to stomach infection

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Sydney, Feb 26 (UNI) Low levels of gastric acid in the stomach increases a person's susceptibility to food-borne infection, a study has confirmed.

To verify the widely held belief that gastric acid serves as a barrier to bacterial pathogens, Australian researchers developed a mouse model to quantify the effectiveness of gastric acid in mediating resistance to infection with ingested bacteria.

The researchers infected healthy mice and mice that were constitutively hypochlorhydric due to a mutation in a gastric gene with pathogens Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Citrobacter rodentium and Clostridium perfringens and then monitored for their ability to fight infection.

Hypochlorhydria is a condition when gastric acid levels in the stomach are abnormally low and is commonly associated with increased risk of infection, researcher Sharon M Tennant of The University of Melbourne said.

The experiments revealed that the higher numbers of all four pathogens survived in the hypochlorhydric mice.

The study, published in the journal Infection and Immunity, revealed that infected mice treated with antacids were more sensitive to infection due to the absence of stomach acid.

The study, besides establishing the role of gastric acid in nonspecific immunity to ingested bacterial pathogens, might also serve in the investigation of the effects of hypochlorhydria on the likelihood of infection, Dr Tennant said.


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