Pernicious anemia

human disease

Pernicious anemia is a medical problem that causes a person to have too few red blood cells (anemia) because their intestines cannot absorb vitamin B12 properly.[1] A special protein, called intrinsic factor, helps the body get vitamin B12 from food such as meat, poultry and dairy foods. Intrinsic factor is made by cells in the stomach.[1] If there is not enough intrinsic factor, the small intestine is unable to get the vitamin B12.

There are several causes of pernicious anemia. These include a weakened stomach lining or a problem with the body's immune system, which causes it to attack the intrinsic factor.[1] In some rare cases it can be passed down through families. Treatment is usually a regular injection of vitamin B12.[1]

Intrinsic factor was discovered by Thomas Addison.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Pernicious anemia". Pub Med Health. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.