AIMS--To examine the course of lymphocytic gastritis and its relation to Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection in a 10 year follow up. METHODS--Ninety six patients were originally examined for dyspepsia in 1981. Gastroscopies with stepwise biopsies were performed on all the patients initially and after an interval of 10 years. RESULTS--Nine per cent of the patients (9/96) had features of lymphocytic gastritis in gastric biopsy at the first examination, and 12.5% (12/96) at the second examination; 7/9 patients (78%) had persistent lymphocytic gastritis during the follow up; in two the diagnostic features of lymphocytic gastritis had disappeared, and five had a new diagnosis of lymphocytic gastritis at the second examination. At the second examination 9/12 lymphocytic gastritis patients (75%) were H pylori positive histologically, while all had specific antibodies to H pylori. The lymphocytic gastritis patients had higher grades of gastritis (p = 0.009), neutrophilic and eosinophilic granulocytes, mononuclear inflammatory cells, and foveolar hyperplasia in the corpus mucosa, but smaller numbers of H pylori, than the H pylori positive patients without lymphocytic gastritis. The appearance of lymphocytic gastritis during the 10 year interval was associated with increases in the grades of corpus gastritis and neutrophilic granulocytes (p = 0.043 for both). During the follow up, the patients with lymphocytic gastritis, but not the H pylori positive patients without lymphocytic gastritis, appeared to have a significant increase in the grade of intestinal metaplasia in the corpus mucosa (p = 0.043). CONCLUSIONS--In some patients H pylori may cause a gastritis that predominates in the corpus and is associated with an increase in the intraepithelial lymphocyte count. This form of gastritis may cause progression of intestinal metaplasia.
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