OBJECTIVES: Role of reflux and mechanisms of response to proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) have not yet been fully elucidated. Comprehensive assessment by impedance-pH monitoring could clarify these issues. METHODS: Prospective multicenter study comparing EoE patients with healthy controls and gastroesophageal reflux disease cases. Patients with EoE were evaluated off- and on PPI; responsiveness was assessed by histology. Impedance-pH appraisal included chemical clearance, assessed with the postreflux swallow-induced peristaltic wave (PSPW) index, and mucosal integrity measured with mean nocturnal baseline impedance (MNBI). RESULTS: Sixty consecutive patients with EoE were compared with 60 age- and sex-matched healthy controls and 60 subjects with gastroesophageal reflux disease. The number of total refluxes was higher, while the PSPW index was lower in patients with EoE than in healthy controls. Off PPI, a lower MNBI gradient between the mid and distal esophagus distinguished 20 patients with PPI-refractory EoE from 40 patients with PPI-responsive EoE and was a predictor of PPI failure. On PPI, a lower PSPW index was the sole reflux parameter distinguishing PPI-refractory from PPI-responsive EoE; all reflux parameters improved in PPI-responsive patients, whereas the PSPW index was not modified in PPI-refractory cases and was independently associated with PPI-responsiveness. MNBI in the distal and mid esophagus improved much more in PPI-responsive than in PPI-refractory EoE. DISCUSSION: Reflux plays a role in the pathogenesis of EoE, more relevant in PPI-responsive cases. Low impedance gradient between the mid and distal esophagus may be useful to predict PPI refractoriness. PPIs mainly act by improving chemical clearance, i.e., by an antireflux action supporting long-term prescription in PPI-responsive EoE.
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