Hypergastrinemia states such as achlorhydria from gastric mucosal atrophy or a gastrin-producing tumor in humans have been associated with the development of enterochromaffin-like (ECL) cell hyperplasia and gastric neuroendocrine tumors (GNETs). Whether drugs that can elevate serum gastrin levels, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can produce the same tissue effect is not known and there is no concrete evidence linking the use of PPIs to GNETs outside animal models and case reports.


To explore the clinicopathologic association for GNETs of presumed ECL cell origin that cannot be reliably placed into any of the 3 established categories currently recognized by the World Health Organization.


This is a retrospective clinicopathologic study of GNETs in the body/fundus of a period of 15 years (2005–2019).


Of a total of 87 cases, 57 (65.5%) were associated with atrophic gastritis, 2 (2.3%) were associated with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and 28 (32.2%) were unclassified. Of the latter, 11 were consistent with true sporadic/type 3 GNETs, while 17 had background mucosal changes of parietal cell and ECL cell hyperplasia but without underlying detectable gastrinoma, and 88.2% (15 of 17) of patients from this group had documented long-term PPI use. This subtype of GNETs was more commonly multifocal, and of higher grade (P = .03) than “true” sporadic GNETs.


A subset of GNETs arises in the background of gastric mucosal changes suggestive of hypergastrinemia, but without underlying gastrinoma, and could be linked to long-term PPI use.

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.