Recent data suggest that the interaction between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and eosinophilic esophagitis can be complex, and that the notion of establishing a clear distinction between the two disorders may be too simplistic. There are at least four situations in which GERD might be associated with esophageal eosinophils: (a) GERD causes esophageal injury that results in a mild eosinophilic infiltration, (b) GERD and eosinophilic esophagitis coexist but are unrelated, (c) eosinophilic esophagitis contributes to or causes GERD, or (d) GERD contributes to or causes eosinophilic esophagitis. The high frequency of GERD described in adult patients with eosinophilic esophagitis suggests that there may be more than a chance association between the two disorders. This report discusses potential mechanisms for the complex interaction between GERD and eosinophilic esophagitis. We hope that this information will serve as a conceptual basis for future studies on the relationship between the two disorders. Whereas there are a number of plausible mechanisms whereby GERD might contribute to the accumulation of eosinophils in the esophageal epithelium, it seems prudent to recommend a clinical trial of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy even when the diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis seems clear-cut. Furthermore, we suggest that a favorable response to PPI therapy does not preclude a diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis.
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