Influence of reflux and central obesity on intercellular space diameter of esophageal squamous epithelium

Christopher H. Blevins, Anamay N. Sharma, Michele L. Johnson, Deborah Geno, Milli Gupta, Adil E. Bharucha, David A. Katzka, Prasad G. Iyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: While central obesity increases gastroesophageal reflux (GER) by mechanically disrupting the anti-reflux barrier, limited data exist on pathways by which central obesity may potentiate esophageal injury by non-mechanical means. Obesity has been associated with an impaired epithelial intestinal barrier. Objective: We aimed to assess the influence of central obesity and reflux on the squamous esophageal epithelial intercellular space diameter (ICSD). Methods: The ICSD was measured using electron microscopy in esophageal biopsies from individuals who underwent ambulatory pH monitoring and endoscopy. Anthropometric measurements were obtained on all participants. Participants were classified into four groups: with and without central obesity and reflux. Results: Sixteen individuals were studied with four in each study group. The mean ICSD was almost three-fold greater (p<0.001) in the group with central obesity without reflux, compared to controls without central obesity and reflux. It was also comparable to the ICSD in groups with acid reflux only and those with both reflux and central obesity. Conclusions: There is evidence of esophageal squamous ICSD increase in individuals with central obesity who do not have evidence of acid and nonacid reflux on ambulatory pH monitoring. This may reflect a mechanism by which central obesity potentiates reflux-induced esophageal injury and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-183
Number of pages7
JournalUnited European Gastroenterology Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2016


  • Barrett’s
  • Central obesity
  • Electron microscopy
  • Esophageal reflux
  • Intercellular dilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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