This article updates current views on gastric mucosal defense, injury, protection and ulcer healing with a focus on mucosal
protective and ulcer healing actions of antacids. The gastric mucosa is continuously exposed to a variety of noxious factors, both endogenous
such as: 0.1N hydrochloric acid, pepsin, bile acids, lysolecithin, H. pylori toxins and exogenous such as NSAIDs, ethanol and others.
Gastric mucosal integrity is maintained by pre-epithelial, epithelial and post-epithelial defense mechanisms permitting the mucosa to
withstand exposure to the above damaging factors. When mucosal defense is weakened or overwhelmed by injurious factors, injury develops
in the form of erosions or ulcers. In the late 1970s Andre Robert and coworkers discovered that microgram amounts of a prostaglandin
E2 analog protects the gastric mucosa against a variety of ulcerogenic and necrotizing agents - even such strong inducers of injury
as 100% ethanol and boiling water. They proposed a new concept of cytoprotection. Subsequently, other compounds, such as sulfhydryls,
sucralfate and epidermal growth factor were shown to exert protective action on gastric mucosa. Additionally, some antacids
have been shown to exert a potent mucosal protective action against a variety of injurious factors and accelerate healing of erosions and
gastric ulcers. These actions of antacids, especially hydrotalcite - the newest and the most extensively studied antacid - are due to activation
of prostaglandin synthesis; binding to and inactivation of pepsin, bile acids and H. pylori toxins; induction of heat shock proteins;
and, activation of genes encoding growth factors and their receptors.
Keywords: Gastric, protection, injury, healing, antacid, hydrotalcite, mucosal defense, H. pylori toxins, NSAIDs, gastric ulcers
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