BACKGROUND: Helicobacter pylori has clearly been implicated in the pathogenesis of gastric and duodenal ulcers, gastritis, and gastric malignancy. Remarkably, eradication of H. pylori from the gastric mucosa has been associated with improvement of systemic disease, including Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroid disease, and immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

PURPOSE: To investigate the relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and the clinical features of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), and to examine the effects of H. pylori eradication on platelet counts.

METHOD: A 13C urea breath test (UBT) for H. pylori infection was performed in a 25 consecutive patients with ITP at Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea. Patients who tested positive for H. pylori received standard eradication therapy if their platelet count was < 50 x 109/L.

RESULTS: H. pylori infection was detected in 18 patients (72%) and eradication therapy was successfully administered to all infected patients. H. pylori infection was not associated with dyspepsia or other clinical or laboratory features. Platelet responses were observed in 6 (33%) of these patients, which lasted for more than 4 months in 4 patients. Platelet associated antibody and anti platelet antibody were negative to all patients.

CONCLUSION: H. pylori eradication may improve the platelet counts in some of adults (33%) in whom the ITP is of recent onset.

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