The transcription factor Nrf2 regulates the expression of detoxifying and antioxidant genes. Three polymorphisms of the Nrf2 gene have been reported. We attempted to clarify the relationship between Nrf2 gene polymorphism and chronic gastritis in a Japanese population. The study was performed in 159 patients with no evidence of gastric malignancy on upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (mean age, 62.03 years; male:female ratio, 102:57; peptic ulcer diseases in 69 patients, and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) positivity in 73.0%). We employed the PCR-SSCP method to detect gene polymorphisms using DNA extracted from peripheral blood cells or from antral biopsy specimens obtained by endoscopy. The severity of the histological chronic gastritis in antral biopsy specimens was classified according to the updated Sydney system. Although the frequencies of the SNP(-686) and SNP(-650) A alleles were decreased in subjects with peptic ulcers or severe mucosal atrophy, no significant differences were seen. However, the number of -686 G alleles was correlated with both neutrophil activity and mononuclear cell infiltration (p=0.036 and p=0.010, respectively), while the -650 C/C genotype was an independent risk factor for mononuclear cell infiltration (p=0.021 by ANOVA). In addition, both the number of -686 G alleles and the -650 C/C genotype showed an interaction with H. pylori infection to promote the infiltration of mononuclear cells (p=0.037 by ANCOVA and p=0.041 by ANOVA, respectively). Nrf2 promoter polymorphisms are significantly associated with the development of gastric mucosal inflammation, either independently or by interacting with H. pylori infection.
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