Can IgG4 Levels Identify the Ulcerative Colitis Subtype of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Ricardo Jacaranda Faria, Cintia Mendes Clemente, Fabiana P. Carneiro, Leopoldo Santos-Neto


Background: Pancreatitis and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency may occur as extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease. Recently, autoimmune pancreatitis and colitis have been described as presentations of IgG4-related disease. IgG4+ plasma cells have been identified in colon tissue from patients with refractory forms of inflammatory bowel disease. The presence of elevated serum/tissue levels of IgG4 and the frequency of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in inflammatory bowel disease are still a source of controversy. Our aim was to investigate the meaning of elevated IgG4 levels in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Methods: A cross-sectional study analyzed 56 patients with a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease recruited by convenience sampling from two tertiary centers in Midwestern Brazil. All patients underwent fecal pancreatic elastase testing for detection of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and serum IgG4 measurement. Findings were correlated with clinical and epidemiological data and disease activity.

Results: Elevated serum IgG4 levels were found in 10 patients, and were most frequent in ulcerative colitis (nine cases), with a prevalence ratio of 16.42 (95% CI: 3.32 - 79.58). Ten patients (10 of 56, 17.8%) were diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, which did not correlate with disease activity, and serum IgG4 levels.

Conclusion: Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is prevalent in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, but it is not associated with elevated serum IgG4 levels. The high prevalence of elevated serum IgG4 in ulcerative colitis suggests that this parameter has potential for use as a diagnostic biomarker.

Gastroenterol Res. 2015;8(2):178-185


Inflammatory bowel disease; IgG4; Autoimmune pancreatitis

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