Objective: Despite ongoing research, the clinical and histopathological natural history of immunoglobulin (Ig) G4-related disease (IgG4-RD) remains unclear and the optimal time to initiate treatment is unknown. A focus on clinical symptoms rather than image finding is recommended for therapeutic initiation in autoimmune pancreatitis, but evidence for this approach is lacking. We aimed to retrospectively analyse disease duration, efficacy of treatment with glucocorticoids and results of histopathological examination of submandibular gland specimens to clarify the necessity for early intervention in IgG4-RD.
Methods: Salivary secretions were assessed before and after treatment in 26 cases of IgG4-related Mikulicz's disease (IgG4-MD). Relationships between disease duration, amount of salivary secretion before treatment, improvement of salivary secretion and ratios of areas of residual acini, fibrosis and lymphoid follicles in the involved submandibular gland specimens were analysed.
Results: Salivary secretions were significantly reduced in cases with illness of >2 years (P < 0.05). An inverse correlation was seen between improved amount of salivary secretion and amount of salivary secretion before treatment (r = -0.60). Improved amount of salivary secretion was also associated with each histological factor (acini, r = 0.29; fibrosis, r = -0.23; lymphoid follicles, r = -0.31), which showed interrelationships (acini and lymphoid follicles, r = -0.23; acini and fibrosis, r = 0.42; lymphoid follicles and fibrosis, r = 0.30).
Conclusion: Salivary secretion can be improved even in cases with lower levels of salivary secretion before treatment in IgG4-RD, but improvements in the amount of salivary secretion decrease with histological changes with delayed therapeutic intervention. These data suggest that early intervention is needed to improve outcomes in patients with IgG4-MD.