There are three main types of blood test available for the management of Helicobacter pylori infection: those that detect an antibody response; tests of the pathophysiological state of the stomach; and those that indicate an active infection. Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) based kits are the most numerous of the commercially available tests. Originally the kits used crude antigen preparations but many of the newer kits use a more purified antigen preparation giving increased specificity but a lower sensitivity. The sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of the tests can also be affected by the population under test and coexistent disease in the patients. Near patient test kits are based on either latex agglutination or immunochromatography. Generally, they have low sensitivities compared with laboratory tests. Commercial western blotting kits have also been developed and are used to detect the presence of specific virulence markers. The exact role of serology in the management of Helicobacter infection has still to be defined, although there is evidence that, used as a screening procedure, it can reduce endoscopy cost and workload. Gastrin and pepsinogen blood concentrations may provide valuable information on the pathophysiological state of the stomach--for example, the presence of inflammation or gastric atrophy. A combination of serology and serum concentrations of gastrin and pepsinogen may be used effectively to detect serious gastroduodenal disease in patients.
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