Association of Antiparietal Cell and Anti-Intrinsic Factor Antibodies With Risk of Gastric Cancer

JAMA Oncol. 2022 Feb 1;8(2):268-274. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.5395.


Importance: Autoimmune gastritis is an alternative cause of gastric carcinogenesis. This cause may be gaining importance with declining prevalence of chronic Helicobacter pylori infection.

Objective: To determine the association of prediagnostic autoantibodies to gastric mucosa with gastric cancer (GC) risk.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study used nested GC case-control analyses within separate Finnish cohorts of women of reproductive age (Finnish Maternity Cohort [FMC]; born 1938-1989) and older men (Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention [ATBC] Study; born 1916-1939). There were 529 and 457 matched pairs from the FMC and ATBC Study, respectively, with mean participant ages of 30.5 and 57.5 years and medians of 17 and 11 years from baseline to cancer diagnosis. Data analyses were performed between August 2019 and November 2020.

Exposures: Antiparietal cell antibodies (APCAs), anti-intrinsic factor antibodies, and anti-H pylori antibodies were measured in baseline serum using immunoassays.

Main outcomes and measures: Autoantibody associations were estimated by odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs.

Results: Of the 529 control participants in the FMC and 457 control participants in the ATBC Study, 53 (10%) women and 35 (7.7%) men were APCA seropositive, respectively, whereas 146 (28%) women and 329 (72%) men were H pylori seropositive. In the FMC, APCA seropositivity was statistically significantly associated with GC risk among H pylori-seronegative women (OR, 5.52; 95% CI, 3.16-9.64) but not H pylori-seropositive women (OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 0.64-2.60; P for interaction = .002). The APCA association with H pylori seronegativity was strongest for tumors in the fundus and corpus (OR, 24.84; 95% CI, 8.49-72.72). In the ATBC Study, APCA seropositivity was not associated with GC among either H pylori-seronegative men (OR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.32-3.04) or H pylori-seropositive men (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.60-1.88). In both cohorts, anti-intrinsic factor antibody seroprevalence was less than 2% among cases as well as controls and not statistically associated with GC risk.

Conclusions and relevance: Results of this cohort study demonstrate that autoantibody positivity may reflect subclinical autoimmune gastritis in younger women. The findings among young females and corpus subsite align with increasing cancer incidence trends for these groups. Stronger autoimmune associations in H pylori-seronegative individuals support a model of autoimmune gastritis replacing H pylori as the driving factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoantibodies
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections* / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections* / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter Infections* / pathology
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / epidemiology


  • Autoantibodies