H+,K-ATPase antibodies in autoimmune gastritis: observations on the development of pernicious anemia.
ABSTRACT The prevalence and development of antibodies to H+,K+-ATPase were investigated with a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 86 patients with autoimmune atrophic gastritis (type A). Sixty-nine of the patients had pernicious anemia, and 17 had simple atrophic gastritis. Elevated titers were found in 93% of pernicious anemia probands. Women had higher levels than men: 3.24 versus 1.58 U/l (p = 0.002) (upper reference limit, 0.55 U/l). The antibody levels did not change over 1-4 years, but a gradual decrease in titers over decades was observed. All patients with pernicious anemia had low levels of pepsinogen A, a product of the gastric chief and mucous neck cells (median, 8.5 micrograms/l; reference range, 10-90 percentile, 64.4-195.5 micrograms/l), and elevated serum gastrin values (greater than 55 pmol/l) were found in 87%. Serum pepsinogen A, but not serum gastrin, correlated with H+,K(+)-ATPase antibody titers (r = 0.35, p = 0.01). In the 17 cases with simple atrophic gastritis, H+,K(+)-ATPase antibodies correlated inversely with fundic mucosal gland destruction. The data indicate that H+,K(+)-ATPase antibody titers reflect the immune responsiveness of a given patient as well as the antigenic amount, dependent on the degree of mucosal destruction and the duration of the disease.