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September 10, 2020
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What Exactly are the Auto-Antibodies of the Autoimmune Disease, Pernicious Anemia?

There are two antibodies that are commonly used to diagnose Pernicious Anemia and can be measured in the blood. These are called auto-antibodies because they are generated by the immune system for unknown reasons, but react with two target antigens in the stomach. The one antibody attacks the parietal cells in the stomach that make Intrinsic Factor (the protein that binds to vitamin B12 from the diet and is needed for absorption) and the other antibody targets Intrinsic Factor itself. Anti-parietal antibodies can be found in individuals who have atrophic gastritis (thin and poorly functioning stomach lining), even if they don't have Pernicious Anemia, but are more commonly found when Pernicious Anemia develops. On the other hand, when Anti-Intrinsic Factor antibodies are found, the atrophic gastritis is almost always accompanied by vitamin B12 deficiency.

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Words You May Not Know
Antigen
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Antigen

A substance that the immune system perceives as being foreign or dangerous. The body combats an antigen with the production of an antibody.

Autoimmune Disease
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Autoimmune Disease

An autoimmune disease is an illness that causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack normal body tissues. Autoimmune is when your body attacks itself.

Atrophic Gastritis
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Atrophic Gastritis

Autoimmune atrophic gastritis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system mistakenly destroys a special type of cell (parietal cells) in the stomach.

Parietal Cells
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Parietal Cells

Parietal cells make stomach acid (gastric acid) and a substance our body needs to help absorb vitamin B12 (called Intrinsic Factor).

Intrinsic Factor
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Intrinsic Factor

Intrinsic factor is a protein produced by the parietal cells of the stomach. It is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine.

Antibodies
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Antibodies

An antibody is a protein produced by the body's immune system when it detects harmful substances, called antigens. Examples of antigens include microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses) and chemicals. Antibodies may be produced when the immune system mistakenly considers healthy tissue a harmful substance. This is called an autoimmune disorder. Each type of antibody is unique and defends the body against one specific type of antigen.

Antigen

A substance that the immune system perceives as being foreign or dangerous. The body combats an antigen with the production of an antibody.

Who Wrote This
Jonathan Bortz MD
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Jonathan’s background as a practicing diabetes specialist for 15 years and 17-year career developing nutritional prescriptive products for the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to his ability to understand nutrients, how they work and why they are important.

Over the years he has acquired broad and in-depth knowledge in minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, but has special expertise in Vitamin B12 and choline metabolism. He is often asked to speak at national and international venues to articulate why B12, folate and choline are so important to gene function, brain development, liver and cardiovascular health. He applies pharmaceutical standards to nutrient science and has developed a unique ability to translate complicated concepts into simple promotional messages that resonate with practitioners and consumers. He has developed dozens of innovative nutritional products, of which many are category leaders in the US. Jonathan obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa and did his fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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