Who Could Be Blamed in the Case of Discrepant Histology and Serology Results for Helicobacter pylori Detection?

Sabine Skrebinska (Coresponding Author), Francis Megraud, Ilva Daugule, Daiga Santare, Sergejs Isajevs, Inta Liepniece-Karele, Inga Bogdanova, Dace Rudzite, Reinis Vangravs, Ilze Kikuste, Aigars Vanags, Ivars Tolmanis, Selga Savcenko, Chloé Alix, Rolando Herrero, Jin Young Park, Marcis Leja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Background. Discrepancies between histology and serology results for Helicobacter pylori detection could be caused by a variety of factors, including a biopsy sampling error, expertise of the pathologist, natural loss of infection due to advanced atrophy, or a false-positive serology in the case of a previous infection, since antibodies may be present in blood following recovery from the infection. Aims. To identify true H. pylori-positive individuals in discrepant cases by serology and histology using real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) as a gold standard. Methods. Study subjects with discrepant histology and serology results were selected from the GISTAR pilot study data base in Latvia. Subjects having received previous H. pylori eradication therapy or reporting use of proton pump inhibitors, antibacterial medications, or bismuth containing drugs one month prior to upper endoscopy were excluded. We compared the discrepant cases to the corresponding results of RT-PCR performed on gastric biopsies. Results. In total, 97 individuals with discrepant results were identified: 81 subjects were serology-positive/histology-negative, while 16 were serologynegative/histology-positive. Among the serology-positive/histology-negative cases, 64/81 (79.0%) were false-positives by serology and, for the majority, inflammation was absent in all biopsies, while, in the serology-negative/histology-positive group, only 6.2% were proven false-positives by histology. Conclusions. Among this high H. pylori prevalent, middle-aged population, the majority of discrepant cases between serology and histology were due to false positive-serology, rather than false-negative histology. This confirms the available evidence that the choice of treatment should not be based solely on the serological results, but also after excluding previous, self-reported eradication therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Discrepant cases
  • H. pylori
  • Histology
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Serology

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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