Gastric mucin plays an important role in protecting mucosa from irritants such as acids and pepsin, and UDP-galactosyltransferase is a key enzyme in mucin synthesis. In order to study the synthesis of gastric mucin in patients with chronic liver disease, we developed a new assay using a peanut agglutinin lectin to measure this enzyme in human gastric mucosa obtained by endoscopic biopsy. Enzyme activity correlated well with that determined with a previous method using radiolabeled galactose. The enzyme activity in gastric mucosa of cirrhotic patients was significantly lower than in patients with chronic hepatitis or in normal controls and correlated with the amount of mucin in surface epithelial cells. Our findings suggest that the synthesis of gastric mucin is impaired in patients with liver cirrhosis.

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