The Immunobiology of Immunoglobulin G4 and Complement Activation Pathways in IgG4-Related Disease

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2017;401:61-73. doi: 10.1007/82_2016_39.


High serum immunoglobulin (Ig) G4 concentration and abundant IgG4-bearing plasma cell infiltration are characteristic features in autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP). AIP is also complicated with a variety of other organ involvements that commonly share marked IgG4-bearing plasma cell infiltration, suggesting the existence of a systemic disease associated with IgG4 currently recognized as IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD). However, it is controversial whether IgG4 plays a role in the pathogenesis of AIP or IgG4-RD through such characteristic attributes as Fab-arm exchange and rheumatoid factor (RF)-like activity. Hypocomplementemia has been observed in AIP and several other IgG4-RDs. Muraki et al. reported that complements C3 and C4 were decreased in 36 % of patients with AIP, which implicated the complement activation system in disease pathogenesis. AIP patients with a high level of immune complexes showed serum elevation of IgG4-type immune complexes in an active disease stage, elevated serum IgG1 concentration, and decreased C3 and C4 values. This inferred that while IgG4 may have had little contribution to complement activation, IgG1 played a prominent role via the classical pathway. On the other hand, Sugimoto et al. observed that polyethylene glycol-precipitated immune complexes from patients with IgG4-RD and hypocomplementemia had the ability to activate the complement system through both the classical and the mannose-binding lectin pathways and that IgG4 might participate in the complement activation system. Thus, debate continues on which complement activation systems are working in AIP and IgG4-RD and whether they are associated with the pathogenesis of these conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Complement Activation
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Pancreatitis / immunology*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Complement System Proteins