Helicobacter pylori, and the chronic gastric inflammation that it causes, may compromise the function and survival of ghrelin-producing cells, resulting in a decrease of circulating ghrelin levels. This finding raises the possibility that the infection might affect growth in children by reducing the ghrelin production.
To determine baseline circulating levels of ghrelin and leptin in prepubertal children with and without H. pylori infection and to evaluate the long-term effects of H. pylori eradication on circulating levels of ghrelin and leptin as well as on body composition.
Thirty children with H. pylori-associated gastritis, 35 children with H. pylori-negative gastric mucosa, and 20 healthy controls were studied.
At baseline, while leptin levels were significantly lower in H. pylori-positive patients, ghrelin concentrations did not differ among the three study groups. However, a significant inverse correlation between ghrelin concentrations and histological severity of gastritis was found. Eradication of the organism was associated with a progressive decrease in ghrelin concentrations over baseline at both 6- and 12-month follow-ups. SDS-body mass index (BMI), lean and fat mass, as well as leptin concentrations, significantly increased over baseline at both follow-ups.
In prepubertal children, serum ghrelin concentrations are inversely related to the severity of H. pylori-associated gastritis. In these youngsters, long-term eradication of H. pylori infection is associated with a significant increase in BMI, lean and fat mass along with a significant decrease in circulating ghrelin levels and an increase in leptin levels.