Purpose: Autonomic nervous system dysfunction exists in autoimmune diseases. Symptoms of autoimmune gastritis are not specific, and some patients may present symptoms suggestive of delayed gastric emptying. This study aims to investigate whether any autonomic dysfunction exists in autoimmune gastritis patients, and if so, to clarify the relationship between the autonomic nervous dysfunction, delayed gastric emptying, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Methods: 75 patients (50 women, mean age 56.73 ± 11.77) diagnosed with autoimmune gastritis were investigated by means of autonomic nervous system and gastric emptying tests. All patients underwent a standardized scintigraphic gastric emptying study and five tests evaluating autonomic nervous system. Patients with autonomic nervous system dysfunction were then analyzed and compared by means of existence of delayed gastric emptying and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Results: 62 patients had autonomic nervous system dysfunction (14 mild, 40 moderate, and 8 severe autonomic dysfunction). The mean total score of autonomic tests was 3.85 ± 2.35. Total autonomic score of patients (n = 60) with delayed gastric emptying was significantly higher than patients (n = 15) with normal gastric emptying (4.68 ± 1.7 vs. 1.53 ± 0.58, p < 0.001). Mean gastroparesis cardinal symptom index was significantly higher in patients (n = 60) with delayed gastric emptying half-time compared to patients (n = 15) with normal gastric emptying half-time (1.89 ± 1.16 vs 0.4 ± 0.3, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Most of patients with autoimmune gastritis also have autonomic nerve dysfunction. There is a close relationship between autonomic nervous system dysfunction and delayed gastric emptying. Gastroparesis cardinal symptom index has a high sensitivity and specificity in predicting both autonomic nerve function and delay in gastric emptying.
Keywords: Autoimmune gastritis; Autonomic nervous system dysfunction; Gastric emptying; Hypergastrinemia.