Aim: To study the association between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection and autoimmune type atrophic gastritis.
Methods: Twenty-three patients with different grades of atrophic gastritis were analysed using enzyme immunoassay-based serology, immunoblot-based serology, and histology to reveal a past or a present H. pylori infection. In addition, serum markers for gastric atrophy (pepsinogen I, pepsinogen I/II and gastrin) and autoimmunity [parietal cell antibodies (PCA), and intrinsic factor (IF), antibodies] were determined.
Results: Of the 14 patients with severe gastric atrophy, as demonstrated by histology and serum markers, and no evidence for an ongoing H. pylori infection, eight showed H. pylori antibodies by immunoblotting. All eight had elevated PCA and 4/8 also had IF antibodies. Of the six immunoblot-negative patients with severe corpus atrophy, PCA and IF antibodies were detected in four. Among the patients with low to moderate grade atrophic gastritis (all except one with an ongoing H. pylori infection), serum markers for gastric atrophy and autoimmunity were seldom detected. However, one H. pylori negative patient with mild atrophic gastritis had PCA and IF antibodies suggestive of a pre-atrophic autoimmune gastritis.
Conclusion: Signs of H. pylori infection in autoimmune gastritis, and positive autoimmune serum markers in H. pylori gastritis suggest an etiological role for H. pylori in autoimmune gastritis.