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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hyper-IgG4 disease: report and characterisation of a new disease

Guy H Neild12*, Manuel Rodriguez-Justo3, Catherine Wall1 and John O Connolly12

Author Affiliations

1 UCL Centre for Nephrology, Royal Free Hospital, London NW3 2QG, UK

2 Institute of Urology and Nephrology, Middlesex Hospital, London W1T 3AA, UK

3 Department of Histopathology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, University College Hospital, Rockefeller Building, London WC1E 6JJ, UK

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BMC Medicine 2006, 4:23  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-4-23

Published: 6 October 2006

Abstract

Background

We highlight a chronic inflammatory disease we call 'hyper-IgG4 disease', which has many synonyms depending on the organ involved, the country of origin and the year of the report. It is characterized histologically by a lymphoplasmacytic inflammation with IgG4-positive cells and exuberant fibrosis, which leaves dense fibrosis on resolution. A typical example is idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis, but the initial report in 2001 was of sclerosing pancreatitis.

Methods

We report an index case with fever and severe systemic disease. We have also reviewed the histology of 11 further patients with idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis for evidence of IgG4-expressing plasma cells, and examined a wide range of other inflammatory conditions and fibrotic diseases as organ-specific controls. We have reviewed the published literature for disease associations with idiopathic, systemic fibrosing conditions and the synonyms: pseudotumour, myofibroblastic tumour, plasma cell granuloma, systemic fibrosis, xanthofibrogranulomatosis, and multifocal fibrosclerosis.

Results

Histology from all 12 patients showed, to varying degrees, fibrosis, intense inflammatory cell infiltration with lymphocytes, plasma cells, scattered neutrophils, and sometimes eosinophilic aggregates, with venulitis and obliterative arteritis. The majority of lymphocytes were T cells that expressed CD8 and CD4, with scattered B-cell-rich small lymphoid follicles. In all cases, there was a significant increase in IgG4-positive plasma cells compared with controls. In two cases, biopsies before and after steroid treatment were available, and only scattered plasma cells were seen after treatment, none of them expressing IgG4. Review of the literature shows that although pathology commonly appears confined to one organ, patients can have systemic symptoms and fever. In the active period, there is an acute phase response with a high serum concentration of IgG, and during this phase, there is a rapid clinical response to glucocorticoid steroid treatment.

Conclusion

We believe that hyper-IgG4 disease is an important condition to recognise, as the diagnosis can be readily verified and the outcome with treatment is very good.