Significance of high serum IgG4 in complete or non-full-fledged IgG4-related disease—a retrospective investigation of 845 patients and its clinical relevance

Hung Cheng Tsai, Hsiang Yun Tung, Chih Wei Liu, Chin Fang Su, Yi Syuan Sun, Wei Sheng Chen, Ming Han Chen, Chien Chih Lai, Hsien Tzung Liao, Ying Ying Yang, Yi Hsiang Huang, Chang Youh Tsai

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Objective: Immunoglobulin G4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a recently recognized heterogeneous, subacute, and usually silent autoimmune disease involving many organs with protean manifestations. However, high IgG4 in serum is not necessarily indicating an IgG4-RD. The aims of this study were to investigate the clinical relevance of high serum IgG4 level in IgG4-RD or non IgG4-RD patients, and to see if IgG4-RD in Taiwan differs from that in other parts of the world. Methods: Eight hundred forty-five patients with high IgG4 were retrospectively reviewed from January 2002 to May 2020 in Taipei Veteran General Hospital. Two hundred sixty-seven patients fulfilled IgG4-RD criteria and were categorized into pancreato-hepato-biliary disease, retroperitoneal fibrosis and/or aortitis, head/neck-limited disease, classic Mikulicz syndrome with systemic involvement, CNS-limited disease, sclerosing vasculitis, skin-limited disease, and sensorineural hearing disease. These manifestations were correlated to smoking, atopy, hyper-IgE/eosinophilia, aging, malignancies, and hypocomplementemia. Five hundred seventy-eight patients were not fulfilling the criteria but were also analyzed for the prevalence of allergy, malignancy, connective tissue diseases, lung diseases, and infections. Results: In IgG4-RD patients, 124 (46.4%) smoked. Top 4 clinical subtypes included Mikulicz syndrome with systemic involvement (33.3%), pancreato-hepatobiliary disease (31.4%), head/neck disease (19.4%), and retroperitoneal fibrosis/aortitis (12.7%). Top 4 co-morbid conditions included high serum IgE/eosinophilia (46.2%), hypocomplementemia (34%), malignancies (13.4%), and allergy (13.4%). Pancreato-biliary disease was associated with high IgE/eosinophilia (r2 = 0.380, P = 0.025) and malignancy (r2 = 0.211, P = 0.027), Miculicz syndrome with allergy (r2 = 0.396, P < 0.01) and high IgE/eosinophil (r2 = 0.396, P < 0.01), CNS diseases (r2 = 0.973, P = 0.035) and sclerosing vasculitis (r2 = 1, P < 0.01) with advanced age respectively, with the latter being also related to atopy and high IgE/eosinophilia (r2 = 1, p < 0.01). Conclusion: Smoking may precipitate IgG4-RD. IgG4-RD with pancreato-hepatobiliary disease is closely related to allergy and neoplasm, and those with Mikulicz syndrome may result from atopy. Elderly IgG4-RD patients tend to develop CNS pathology parallel to advancing of age. The disease may probably be originated from an unknown mechanism that may sporadically evolve into malignancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Atopy
  • Fibroinflammatory disease
  • IgG4-RD
  • Mikulicz syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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