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Effect of sodium bicarbonate on aspirin-induced damage and potential difference changes in human gastric mucosa

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 22 October 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:1052
  1. Bruce K Bowen,
  2. William J Krause,
  3. Kevin J Ivey


    Two aspirin tablets in 100 ml fluid will produce microscopical damage to the human stomach. A study was performed to determine whether a small amount of sodium bicarbonate (equivalent to one-third of a teaspoonful of baking soda) could protect against this damage. Sequential gastric biopsy specimens were taken from 15 healthy subjects before, during, and after intragastric instillation of one of the following isotonic solutions: saline; sodium bicarbonate; 600 mg aspirin suspended in sodium bicarbonate; and aspirin suspended in saline. On a separate day the same solutions were instilled, but gastric transmucosal potential differences were monitored. Light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy of the biopsy specimens showed occasional mucous degranulation of mucosal surface cells, but no cell damage during instillation of sodium bicarbonate. Light microscopy studies 10 minutes after aspirin in saline showed damage in 20% of surface cells, with focal areas of cellular disruption and microscopic erosions, but only 3·4% of cells were damaged after aspirin in bicarbonate and there were no erosions. Electron microscopy showed a damaged honeycombed appearance of surface epithelium after aspirin in saline and a normal cobblestone appearance after aspirin in bicarbonate. Aspirin dissolved in bicarbonate failed to induce the usual fall in potential difference.

    These findings indicate that sodium bicarbonate in amounts equivalent to one-third of a teaspoonful of baking soda protects the gastric mucosa against aspirin-induced damage and prevents the usual fall in potential difference after aspirin.