BACKGROUND: Autoimmune atrophic gastritis (AAG) leads to iron and/or vitamin B12 malabsorption, with subsequent haematological alterations which could represent the sole clinical manifestation. We aimed to assess patterns of anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies in patients with AAG at the time of diagnosis.
METHODS: Observational, multicentre, cross-sectional study including consecutive adult patients diagnosed with AAG within the last ten years. Cell blood count, red cell distribution width, serum vitamin B12, and ferritin were collected. Multivariate analysis for predictive factors of anaemia was computed.
RESULTS: 654 AAG patients (mean age 59.2 ± 13.8 years, female (F): male (M) ratio = 2.3:1) were included. Anaemia was present in 316 patients (48.3%; mean age 60.1 ± 15.8 years, F:M ratio = 2.3:1). Pernicious anaemia (132/316 cases, 41.7%) was more common in males (27.1% versus 12.4%; p = 0.001) and in older patients (63.0 ± 14.6 versus 58.9 ± 14.9 years; p = 0.014), while iron deficiency anaemia (112/316 cases, 35.4%) was more common in females (16.9% versus 10.0%; p = 0.039) and in younger patients (56.8 ± 16.6 versus 60.2 ± 14.6 years; p = 0.043). The prevalence of iron deficiency was equally distributed between anaemic and non-anaemic patients (p = 0.9). Anisocytosis (odds ratio: 10.65, 95% confidence interval: 6.13-18.50, p < 0.0001) was independently associated with anaemia.
CONCLUSIONS: Anaemia is a common manifestation in AAG patients, mostly due to micronutrient deficiencies. Scant haematologic alterations and micronutrient deficiencies may precede overt anaemia.