Review of primary sclerosing cholangitis with increased IgG4 levels.
Manganis CD., Chapman RW., Culver EL.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic progressive liver disease. Sub-types of PSC have been described, most recently PSC with elevated serum and/or tissue IgG4 subclass. We aim to summarise the clinical phenotype, disease associations, differential diagnosis, response to therapy and pathogenic mechanisms underlying PSC-high IgG4 subtype. We reviewed PubMed, MEDLINE and Embase with the search terms "primary sclerosing cholangitis", "IgG4", and "IgG4-related sclerosing cholangitis (IgG4-SC)". Elevated serum IgG4 are found in up-to one-quarter, and abundant IgG4-plasma cell infiltrates in the liver and bile ducts are found in up-to one-fifth of PSC patients. This group have a distinct clinical phenotype, with some studies reporting a more aggressive course of liver and associated inflammatory bowel disease, compared to PSC-normal IgG4 and the disease mimic IgG4-SC. Distinguishing PSC-high IgG4 from IgG4-SC remains challenging, requiring careful assessment of clinical features, organ involvement and tissue morphology. Calculation of serum IgG4:IgG1 ratios and use of a novel IgG4:IgG RNA ratio have been reported to have excellent specificity to distinguish IgG4-SC and PSC-high IgG4 but require validation in larger cohorts. A role for corticosteroid therapy in PSC-high IgG4 remains unanswered, with concerns of increased toxicity and lack of outcome data. The immunological drivers underlying prominent IgG4 antibodies in PSC are incompletely defined. An association with PSC-high IgG4 and HLA class-II haplotypes (B*07, DRB1*15), T-helper2 and T-regulatory cytokines (IL4, IL10, IL13) and chemokines (CCL1, CCR8) have been described. PSC-high IgG4 have a distinct clinical phenotype and need careful discrimination from IgG4-SC, although response to immunosuppressive treatments and long-term outcome remains unresolved. The presence of IgG4 likely represents chronic activation to persistent antigenic exposure in genetically predisposed individuals.