IgG4-related sclerosing cholangitis mimicking cholangiocarcinoma

M. Nguyen-Tat*, T. Gamstätter, J. U. Marquardt, E. Geißinger, S. Schadmand-Fischer, H. Lang, E. Siegel, M. Schuchmann, P. R. Galle, M. A. Wörns

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


IgG4-related disease has gained increased attention worldwide. While the initial focus was on autoimmune pancreatitis which was first described in Asian populations and turned out to be of relevance in Western populations too, the scope has recently broadened towards a notion of a multi-systemic disease with very diverse manifestations such as autoimmune pancreatitis, IgG4-related sclerosing cholangitis (IgG4-SC), retroperitoneal fibrosis and tubulointerstitial nephritis. IgG4-SC (also known as IgG4-associated cholangitis, IAC) represents a rare but clinically challenging differential diagnosis in patients with obstructive jaundice and proximal extra- or intrahepatic biliary strictures which can be mistaken for cholangiocarcinoma (CC). We present the case of a 79-year-old male patient who presented with obstructive jaundice and biliary strictures at the hepatic duct bifurcation without any evidence for autoimmune pancreatitis and without elevation of serum IgG4-concentrations who underwent hemihepatectomy for suspected CC. However, on histological examination of the resection specimen CC could not be confirmed. It was only after several episodes of obstructive jaundice had reoccurred that the diagnosis of IgG4-SC could be established by reexamination of the surgical specimen which showed extensive infiltration with IgG4-positive plasma cells. Appropriate medical treatment with steroids and azathioprine led to complete remission of the disease. Early recognition of IgG4-SC can save patients from potential harmful and unnecessary surgical interventions. Here we describe the clinical features of this rare case of IgG4-SC with extensive liver tissue infiltration with IgG4-positive cells but without elevated serum IgG4 concentration or evidence of autoimmune pancreatitis. We describe diagnostic criteria for IgG4-SC and review recent insights in pathophysiology and treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
JournalZeitschrift fur Gastroenterologie
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1008-1012
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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