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IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a relatively novel fibroinflammatory condition characterized typically by dense lymphoplasmacytic inflammation, storiform fibrosis and obliterative venulitis, together with prominent IgG4+ plasma cells and an IgG4+/IgG+ plasma cell ratio of >40 %. The diagnosis is usually made on a combination of clinical and serological features together with characteristic radiological and histological appearances. The condition may be limited to a single tissue/organ (e.g., autoimmune pancreatitis) or may be multicentric in nature - four clinical 'patterns' of disease distribution have recently been described. The diagnosis of IgG4-RD can be challenging, particularly when the clinical presentation is unusual and/or when the histological features are not typical. A diagnosis of IgG4-RD may still be achieved in these situations, after careful clinicopathological discussion e.g., at a specialist multidisciplinary team meeting. However, a wide range of other conditions (neoplastic and non-neoplastic) can mimic IgG4-RD, clinically and/or on histological examination. The relationship between IgG4-RD and non-IgG4-RD associated conditions in some clinical situations is particularly complex. This review describes the role of histological examination in the diagnosis of IgG4-RD, discusses some of the practical difficulties that may be encountered and provides an insight into the range of non-IgG4-RD associated conditions that can mimic IgG4-RD on clinical and/or histological grounds. The requirement for interpretation of histological features in the context of the global clinical picture of the patient is highlighted and emphasized.

Original publication




Journal article


Seminars in diagnostic pathology

Publication Date





45 - 53


Department of Cellular Pathology, Southampton General Hospital, MP002, Level E, South Block, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK. Electronic address:


Humans, Autoimmune Diseases, Fibrosis, Immunoglobulin G, Diagnosis, Differential, Immunoglobulin G4-Related Disease