Autoimmune metaplastic atrophic gastritis (AMAG) is an underrecognized entity, especially in its early stage. This study assessed whether the use of gastrin immunohistochemistry would increase sensitivity for diagnosing early AMAG.
Three-hundred gastric biopsies were prospectively stained for gastrin by immunohistochemistry. Inclusion criteria included well-oriented gastric mucosa with mucus glands and minimal plasma cell infiltrate not suspected to represent pyloric metaplasia. Patient age, sex, designated location of biopsy, presence or absence of intestinal metaplasia, and clinical information were not criteria. Any case with absence of gastrin-positive endocrine cells reflexed to chromogranin immunohistochemistry. Maloriented biopsies or cases with current Helicobacter infection were excluded.
The 298-patient study cohort comprised 222 females (mean age, 47 years; range, 16-80 years) and 76 males (mean age, 49 years; range, 7-80 years). Biopsies were designated as “antral/antral nodules” (61%), and the rest were labeled “gastric/random stomach” (39%). Nine cases (3%) exhibited absence of gastrin-positive endocrine cells; one of those showed endocrine cell hyperplasia by chromogranin staining.
Pathologists should be aware of the histologic features of early AMAG and meticulously analyze tissue regardless of specimen labeling. Gastrin immunostain is a supplemental diagnostic tool when encountering inflamed antral-appearing specimens.

© American Society for Clinical Pathology, 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: