Utility of Serum IgG4 Levels in a Multiethnic Population

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Abstract

Background:

IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a recently recognized condition defined by characteristic histopathologic findings in affected organs. Serum IgG4 concentration is often but not always elevated. The sensitivity and specificity of serum IgG4 vary greatly across studies and has been anecdotally associated to ethnicity. Our study was conducted to investigate the difference in serum IgG4 levels between Asian and non-Asian patients with IgG4-RD.

Methods:

This is a single-center retrospective study of 26 Asian and 10 non-Asian patients with histologically confirmed IgG4-RD. Serum IgG4 levels, clinical features and other laboratory findings were compared between the 2 groups, 31 Asian and 11 non-Asian patients with non-IgG4-RD rheumatic diseases were randomly identified to evaluate test characteristics of serum IgG4 measurement.

Results:

Median serum IgG4 at time of diagnosis was significantly higher in Asian (median = 11.2 g/L, interquartile range: 4.6-19.7) than non-Asian patients (median = 2.9 g/L, interquartile range: 0.7-5.4, P = 0.0094), as well as the median serum IgG and total protein. Asian patients had more eosinophilia and polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia than non-Asian patients (P = 0.016 and 0.001, respectively). Test sensitivity was higher in Asian (96%) than non-Asian patients (67%), whereas test specificity was higher in non-Asian patients (91% versus 71%).

Conclusion:

Asian patients with IgG4-RD have more exuberant serum IgG4, IgG and polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia than non-Asian patients; the mechanism of this difference requires further study. These findings have significant clinical importance and must be accounted for in the diagnostic workup of patients in multiethnic settings.

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