Background & aims: A subgroup of Helicobacter pylori-infected patients develops autoantibodies to gastric parietal cell canaliculi. The aim of this study was to define the unknown autoantigen.
Methods: We screened 72 H. pylori-infected patients, 5 patients with autoimmune gastritis, and 36 healthy controls for immunoglobulin G autoantibodies to canaliculi by immunohistochemistry. The antigen specificity was determined by immunoprecipitation of the murine gastric H+,K+-adenosine triphosphatase (H+,K+-ATPase) expressed in oocytes and by immunoblotting on human gastric membranes from the body mucosa.
Results: Autoantibodies specific for the conformational peptides of the H+,K+-ATPase were detected in 3% (1/36) of controls, in all patients with autoimmune gastritis (5/5), in 25% (18/72) of H. pylori-infected patients, and in 47% (15/32) of the infected patients with anticanalicular autoantibodies. No other major autoantigen was identified. Atrophy in the gastric body mucosa was found in 60% (9/15) of infected patients with both anticanalicular and anti-H+,K+-ATPase antibodies, but only in 13% (5/37) of infected patients lacking both autoantibodies (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: The gastric H+,K+-ATPase is a major autoantigen in H. pylori-associated antigastric autoimmunity. Thus, anti-H+,K+-ATPase autoantibodies, which are closely linked to classical autoimmune gastritis, are also significant indicators for body mucosa atrophy in chronic H. pylori gastritis.