Polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia: assessment, clinical interpretation, and management

Lancet Haematol. 2021 May;8(5):e365-e375. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3026(21)00056-9.


This Review outlines a practical approach to assessing and managing polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia in adults. Polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia is most commonly caused by liver disease, immune dysregulation, or inflammation, but can also provide an important diagnostic clue of rare diseases such as histiocyte disorders, autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome, Castleman disease, and IgG4-related disease. Causes of polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia can be divided into eight categories: liver disease, autoimmune disease and vasculitis, infection and inflammation, non-haematological malignancy, haematological disorders, IgG4-related disease, immunodeficiency syndromes, and iatrogenic (from immunoglobulin therapy). Measuring serum concentrations of C-reactive protein and IgG subclasses are helpful in diagnosis. IL-6-mediated inflammation, associated with persistently elevated C-reactive protein concentrations (≥30 mg/L), is an important driver of polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia in some cases. Although the presence of markedly elevated serum IgG4 concentrations (>5 g/L) is around 90% specific for diagnosing IgG4-related disease, mildly elevated serum IgG4 concentrations are seen in many conditions. In most cases, managing polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia simply involves treating the underlying condition. Rarely, however, polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia can lead to hyperviscosity, requiring plasmapheresis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Hematologic Diseases / complications
  • Hematologic Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / diagnosis*
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / drug therapy
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / etiology
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Liver Diseases / complications
  • Liver Diseases / pathology


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • C-Reactive Protein