What are the signs and symptoms of autoimmune gastritis?

Updated: Jun 07, 2019
  • Author: Akiva J Marcus, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The clinical manifestations of autoimmune gastritis are primarily related to the deficiency in cobalamin, which is not adequately absorbed because of intrinsic factor (IF) deficiency resulting from severe gastric parietal cell atrophy. The disease has an insidious onset and progresses slowly. Cobalamin deficiency affects the hematologic, gastrointestinal (GI), and neurologic systems. [93]

The most significant hematologic manifestation is megaloblastic anemia, but on rare occasions, purpura due to thrombocytopenia may develop. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, light-headedness, vertigo, tinnitus, palpitations, angina and symptoms of congestive heart failure.

There are many gastrointestinal manifestations of cobalamin deficiency. Patients sometimes report having soreness of the tongue- called glossitis. Anorexia with moderate weight loss that is occasionally associated with diarrhea may result from malabsorption associated with megaloblastic changes of the small intestinal epithelial cells. [94]

Neurologic manifestations result from demyelination, followed by axonal degeneration and neuronal death. Affected sites include the peripheral nerves, posterior and lateral columns of the spinal cord, and cerebrum. Signs and symptoms include numbness and paresthesias in the extremities, weakness, and ataxia. Sphincter disturbances may occur. Mental function disturbances range from mild irritability to severe dementia or psychosis. Neurologic disease may occur in a patient with hematocrit and red cell parameters within the reference range. [95]

As previously mentioned, patients with pernicious anemia have an increased frequency of gastric polyps and gastric carcinoid, in addition to an increase in the frequency of gastric adenocarcinoma. [91, 92]

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