Evaluating breast lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates: a multiparameter immunohistochemical study, including assessment of IgG4

Hum Pathol. 2015 Aug;46(8):1162-70. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2015.04.006. Epub 2015 Apr 28.


Lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates in the breast, a modified skin appendage, include lymphocytic lobulitis, other nonspecific benign proliferations, and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT)-type lymphoma. Distinguishing these entities, all of which may be B-cell rich and may have associated sclerosis, can be difficult. In addition, the proportion that represents IgG4-related disease is unknown, and the similarity of MALT lymphomas to primary cutaneous marginal zone lymphoma is uncertain. To address these questions, the clinical, histologic, and immunohistochemical features of 50 benign and malignant breast lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates (10 lymphocytic lobulitis, 1 granulomatous, 19 not otherwise specified, 20 MALT lymphomas) were evaluated. Compared with the MALT lymphomas, benign cases had a less dense infiltrate (P < .001), fewer but more histologically apparent germinal centers (P < .001), and more marked fibrosis (P < .0001). Greater than 60% B cells were present in 23% (7/30) benign cases versus 75% (15/20) MALT lymphomas (P = .0003). Plasma cells were predominantly IgG+ in 83% (24/29) benign cases and predominantly IgM+ in 73% (14/19) MALT lymphomas (P < .0001). None of the benign cases had greater than 50 IgG4+ plasma cells/high-power field, and only 1 lymphocytic lobulitis case had an IgG4/IgG ratio exceeding 40% and no clinical evidence for extramammary IgG4-related disease. Although there may be some overlapping features, routine histopathology together with limited immunohistochemical stains can distinguish benign from neoplastic lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates in the breast. Despite frequent sclerosis, the breast is not a common site of unrecognized IgG4-related sclerosing disease. Although there are similarities, breast MALT lymphomas can be separated from cutaneous marginal zone lymphoma.

Keywords: Breast; IgG4; Lymphoplasmacytic; MALT lymphoma; Sclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Diseases / diagnosis
  • Breast Diseases / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / immunology
  • Pregnancy


  • Immunoglobulin G