Autoimmune Gastritis

Chronic Gastritis, when arising due to factors associated with immunity, is known as Autoimmune Gastritis (AG). Know all about Autoimmune Gastritis, what it is, how it is caused, its symptoms, treatment options and more.

Autoimmune Gastritis Definition

AG is a chronic inflammation of the stomach arising due to the actions of the immune system against the stomach tissues. In this form of gastritis, the immune system aims the parietal cells which perform important functions that indirectly help in digestion and vitamin B12 absorption. It can be classified as Gastritis Type A which affects the fundus of the stomach.

Autoimmune Gastritis Synonyms

The condition is also referred to as Autoimmune Metaplastic Atrophic Gastritis and autoimmune chronic gastritis.

Autoimmune Gastritis Incidence

AG is more prevalent in people above 50 years of age. The reason for age-related occurrence might be its slow progression which takes years to show. It is basically a rare disease found more in people of European lineage. According to data, in UK, Sweden and Denmark, around 100 out of 100,000 individuals reported of pernicious anemia developed due to AG.

Autoimmune Gastritis Causes

Sources suggest that it is an inherited form of a disease. AG can be caused due to the presence of other autoimmune disease. The gene which might be held responsible for its causation has not been identified. Other considerations may include gastrectomy and usage of PPIs or proton pump inhibitor for long duration.

Picture of Autoimmune Gastritis

Picture 1 – Autoimmune Gastritis

AG is characterized by the production of antibodies which attacks the cells of the stomach that perform varied functions. Gastric mucoa is composed of parietal mass which is ruined by autoantibodies. An autoimmune reaction hastens damage by allowing white blood cells to penetrate. A certain chemical called cytokines is released, which jointly speeds up the process. Role of Helicobacter pylori is not clear in the triggering of AG.

Autoimmune Gastritis Symptoms

Significant clinical symptoms can be noted in patients with AG. However, this is majorly due to the development of pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is caused by the deficit of vitamin B12, which ultimately stops the production of red blood cells. Deficiency of vitamin B12 causes an array of symptoms and this is caused over the years. This is the reason why it is called chronic. Some of the symptoms which may show up in due course are:

  • Paresthesia or numbness, felt mostly in the legs
  • Loose motions
  • Glossitis or tongue disorder
  • Feeling of uneasiness/discomfort
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Memory loss
  • Depressive tendency
  • Cracks developing at the bend of the lips
  • Pain in the mouth

Autoimmune Gastritis Diagnosis

A series of tests can be conducted to diagnose AG. However, diagnosis is important when oxyntic mucosa is not completely lost. Hence, it might be extremely tricky to diagnose the disease till later stages.  Firstly, physical examination by a physician sheds light on aspects like stomach tenderness, fast pulse and paleness. Some of these tests are generally advised for suspected cases of AG:

  • FBC, to investigate whether anemia is present or not.
  • Autoantibody and Vitamin B12 tests are ordered to find their levels.
  • Endoscopy can be done to evaluate presence of gastric malignancy, if pernicious anemia is found.
  • Intrinsic factor antibodies test measures the level of IF in blood.

Autoimmune Gastritis Treatment

Autoimmune form of gastritis requires different treatment options. As it is not triggered by external factors, treatment is offered to treat the internal lacuna. Administration of parenteral B12 is considered to be the primary treatment course. Those suffering from pernicious anemia are treated by addressing the nutritional deficiencies.

Autoimmune Gastritis Risk Factors

The risk of suffering from the condition might be greater in people affected with disorders like:

Image of Autoimmune Gastritis

Picture 2 – Autoimmune Gastritis Image

  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Graves Disease
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Addison disease
  • Hashimoto’s Disease

Autoimmune Gastritis Prognosis

The prognosis for AG is outstanding when it is effectively managed with cyanocobalamin therapy. However, a faint possibility of development of rare tumors and stomach cancer appears to exist.


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