Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), post-transplant recurrent AIH (rAIH), and plasma cell-rich rejection (PCR) are clinical diagnoses with the shared histopathologic hallmark of plasma cell hepatitis (PCH). As these histologically and serologically indistinguishable diagnoses are differentiated by clinical context, it remains uncertain whether they represent distinct immunologic phenomena. Improved understanding of immunoglobulin subclass 4-producing plasma cells (IgG4-PC) has brought attention to IgG4 as an immunophenotypic biomarker. To date, degree and clinical significance of IgG4-PC infiltration in PCH remain elusive. This retrospective, single-center study assessed IgG4-PC infiltration in AIH, rAIH, and PCR via standardized immunohistochemistry analysis. Identified cases from 2005 to 2020 (n = 47) included AIH (treatment-naïve AIH (tnAIH): n = 15 and AIH-flare on treatment (fAIH); n = 10), rAIH (n = 8), and PCR (n = 14) were analyzed and correlated with clinical characteristics. IgG4-Positivity (# IgG4-PC/# pan-IgG-expressing cells) distribution was heterogenous and overlapping [tnAIH: 0.060 (IQR 0.040–0.079), fAIH: 0.000 (0.000–0.033), rAIH: 0.000 (0.000–0.035), PCR: 0.228 (0.039–0.558)]. IgG4-Positivity was inversely correlated with corticosteroid use (p < 0.001). IgG4-Positivity ≥0.500 was associated with rapid AST improvement (p = 0.03). The variable IgG4-Positivity of AIH, rAIH and PCR suggests diverse and overlapping immunopathologic mechanisms and that current diagnostic schemes inadequately capture PCH immunopathology. We propose incorporation of IgG4-Positivity to refine current PCH classification and treatment strategies.
- autoimmune hepatitis
- plasma cell hepatitis