oa SA Pharmacist's Assistant - What is a proton-pump inhibitor? : gastro-intestinal tract

Volume 14 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1608-9634
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1068



In order to understand what a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) is and how it works, it is important to know what a proton pump is and its function. When food is detected inside the gastrointestinal tract, a hormone, called gastrin, is secreted into the bloodstream. The presence of gastrin leads to an increase in the secretion of acid from cells in the wall of the stomach into the gastrointestinal tract to assist with digestion of food. Acid secretion takes place via stimulation of an enzyme that is part of a pump in the lining of the stomach, called the proton pump. PPIs are medicines that reduce the amount of acid in the stomach by blocking the proton pump. The reduction of acid allows ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract to heal and prevents the formation of new ulcers.

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