Review article: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease - Pathophysiological issues of clinical relevance

R. Penagini, S. Carmagnola, P. Cantu

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Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is a multifactorial disorder in which the pathophysiological mechanisms are variably combined in different patients. Motor dysfunction of the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) and, possibly, the proximal stomach is a major cause of the increase in the number of reflux episodes. Transient LOS relaxation is the main mechanism of reflux in many patients with endoscopically negative disease, whereas a hypotensive LOS becomes relevant only in patients with oesophagitis. Alterations in primary and secondary peristalsis contribute to the increased oesophageal acid exposure by delaying clearance. The presence of a hiatus hernia, especially when voluminous and/or non-reducible, increases the number of reflux episodes by mechanically weakening the oesophago-gastric junction, and impairs oesophageal clearance. Hypersensitivity to acid is often present and contributes to the clinical manifestations of the disease, whereas oesophageal hypersensitivity, both to chemical and mechanical stimuli, plays a predominant role in a subset of patients. Increased concentrations of noxious compounds in the oesophageal refluxate may contribute to the development of anatomical lesions, but this is still a matter for debate. The clinical relevance of Helicobacter pylori infection and of mucosal defensive factors still needs to be fully elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Supplement
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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