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Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2011 Dec;13(6):518-24. doi: 10.1007/s11894-011-0225-5.

Diagnosis and management of pernicious anemia.

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Department of Digestive and Liver Disease, University Sapienza, Medical School, Ospedale Sant'Andrea, Via di Grottarossa 1035, 00189 Rome, Italy.


Pernicious anemia is a macrocytic anemia due to cobalamin deficiency, which is the result of intrinsic factor deficiency. Pernicious anemia is associated with atrophic body gastritis, whose diagnostic criteria are based on the histologic evidence of gastric body atrophy associated with hypochlorhydria. Serological markers suggesting the presence of oxyntic mucosa damage are increased levels of fasting gastrin and decreased levels of Pepsinogen I. Without the now obsolete Schilling's test, intrinsic factor deficiency may not be proven, and gastric intrinsic factor output after pentagastric stimulation has been proposed. Intrinsic factor autoantibodies are useful surrogate markers of pernicious anemia. The management of patients with pernicious anemia should focus on the life-long replacement treatment with cobalamin and the monitoring to early diagnose an eventual onset of iron deficiency. Moreover, these patients should be advised about possible gastrointestinal long-term consequences, such as gastric cancer and carcinoids.

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