What Is Pernicious Anemia?

Author
By james
Reviewed
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
Jun 26, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

All parts of the body need a constant supply of blood. The oxygen that tissues require is carried by red blood cells that are made in the body. These cells are made with the help of vitamin B12, among other things, a vitamin obtained from foods in the diet (i.e. milk, meat). Simply put, if there is not enough vitamin B12, then there are not enough mature red blood cells to transport sufficient oxygen for tissues.

This results in a specific subtype of megaloblastic anemia known as pernicious anemia. With modern medicine, pernicious anemia is not a serious condition, but it is still something that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

1. Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia is a condition that used to be considered fatal once it was diagnosed. Indeed, the condition got its name because its deadliness meant that it was a pernicious disease. Thankfully, it is nowhere near as dangerous as it used to be, and now, depending on the cause, it is fairly easy to treat.

As mentioned, pernicious anemia is a subtype of megaloblastic anemias. In general, in megaloblastic anemias, the bone marrow produces immature and large red blood cells (megaloblasts), due to impaired DNA synthesis within the nucleus of the cells. These effects can mostly be caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency, folate deficiency, medications, or certain conditions. This, in turn, means that there are not enough mature red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen around the body to where it is needed. Specifically, in pernicious anemia, the most common cause of vitamin B-12 deficiency is the lack of sufficient intrinsic factor (IF) production. IF is a substance that is secreted by the stomach, which enables vitamin B-12 absorption in the small intestine (ileum). The destruction of intrinsic factor-producing cells can be given by the body’s immune system (autoimmune), by surgical removal of a part of the stomach (gastrectomy), or rare genetic disorders.

Pernicious Anemia

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