Folic acid malabsorption in atrophic gastritis. Possible compensation by bacterial folate synthesis.
Folic acid absorption was studied in 12 elderly subjects with atrophic gastritis and 10 elderly normal controls using tritium-labeled pteroylmonoglutamic acid. Two folic acid absorption tests were carried out on each subject with 120 ml of either water or 0.1 N HCl. Folic acid absorption was significantly lower in subjects with atrophic gastritis than in normal controls (31% vs. 51%, respectively; p less than 0.01). In subjects with atrophic gastritis, folic acid absorption rose significantly to 54% (p less than 0.001) when administered with acid, but did not change in normal controls (50%). Serum folate levels were normal in all subjects. Proximal small intestinal pH was higher in atrophic gastritis subjects than in normal controls (7.1 vs. 6.7, respectively; p less than 0.05), as were bacterial counts of small intestinal fluid (p less than 0.01). Bacteria cultured from the aspirates of subjects with atrophic gastritis were able to synthesize folate in vitro when incubated in a folate-free medium. Atrophic gastritis results in folic acid malabsorption but not in folate deficiency, possibly due to increased bacterial synthesis of folate in the small intestine.
Gastroenterology. 1986 Dec;91(6):1476-82.