An abundance of IgG4+ plasma cells is not specific for IgG4-related tubulointerstitial nephritis

Mod Pathol. 2011 Nov;24(11):1480-7. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2011.101. Epub 2011 Jun 24.


IgG4-related tubulointerstitial nephritis (IgG4-TIN), the renal parenchymal lesion of IgG4-related sclerosing disease, is characterized, among other things, by the presence of numerous IgG4-positive plasma cells (IgG4+PC) in the kidney infiltrate. The specificity of this finding for IgG4-TIN has not been addressed. To address this we examined 100 consecutive renal biopsy samples with active interstitial inflammation for the presence of IgG4+PC, and correlated the findings with principal diagnosis, the available clinical histories, and the findings in four biopsy samples of IgG4-TIN. Eleven of the survey biopsy samples contained an average of more than 10 IgG4+PC per × 200 field, including two with IgG4+PC in numbers comparable to those in two of the IgG4-related tubulointerstitial disease biopsy samples. The principal pathological diagnoses in the IgG4+PC-rich cases included anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-positive necrotizing glomerulonephritis (five cases), diabetic nephropathy (two cases), idiopathic interstitial nephritis (two cases), membranous glomerulonephritis (one case), and lupus nephritis (one case). There was no reason, based on histology or clinical history, to believe that any of these cases represented previously unsuspected IgG4-related tubulointerstitial disease. We conclude that the presence of numerous IgG4+PC is essential to, but not sufficient for, the diagnosis of IgG4-TIN.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / analysis
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biopsy
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / immunology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis / immunology
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Tubules / immunology*
  • Kidney Tubules / pathology
  • Lupus Nephritis / immunology
  • Lupus Nephritis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / immunology*
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / pathology
  • Oregon
  • Plasma Cells / immunology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin G