Pernicious anemia is the result of functional failure of the gastric parietal cell, and the gastritis associated with it fulfils the criteria for an autoimmune disease. Like most human autoimmune diseases, autoimmune gastritis predominates in women. It is associated with autoantibodies which react with the highly conserved and functionally important molecules, gastric H+,K'-ATPase and gastric intrinsic factor. There is a genetic predisposition to its development and this is potentiated in the female. It is associated with other well-defined organ-specific autoimmune diseases affecting endocrine glands. How these data are related to the cause, potentiation and maintenance of the gastritis remains unresolved.

See also: Autoantibodies, tests for; Autoantigens; Autoimmune diseases; Autoimmunity.

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