"plasma cell hepatitis" in liver allografts: Identification and characterization of an IgG4-rich cohort

M. Castillo-Rama, M. Sebagh, E. Sasatomi, P. Randhawa, K. Isse, A. D. Salgarkar, K. Ruppert, A. Humar, A. J. Demetris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Plasma cell hepatitis (PCH), also known as "de novo autoimmune" hepatitis, is an increasingly recognized, but suboptimally named and poorly understood, category of late allograft dysfunction strongly resembling autoimmune hepatitis (AIH): They share plasma-cell-rich necro-inflammatory activity on biopsy, autoantibodies and steroid responsiveness, but overlap with rejection is problematic. A retrospective study of clinical, serological, histopathological and IgG4 immunohistological features of PCH (n = 20) in liver allograft recipients, native liver AIH (n = 19) and plasma-cell-rich renal allograft rejection (n = 20) showed: (1) high frequency (44%) of HLA-DR15; (2) less female predominance (p = 0.03) and (3) n = 9/20 PCH recipients showed >25 IgG4+ plasma cells/high-power field (IgG4+ PCH) versus AIH (n = 1/19, p = 0.008) or plasma-cell-rich kidney rejection (n = 2/20, p = 0.03). The IgG4+ PCH (n = 9) subgroup showed lower alanine transaminase (ALT) (p < 0.01) and aspartate transaminase (AST) (p < 0.05) at index biopsy but (a) higher plasma cell number/percentage, (b) more aggressive-appearing portal/periportal and perivenular necro-inflammatory activity and (c) more severe portal/periportal fibrosis than IgG4- PCH (n = 11). Significant demographic, histopathologic and plasma cell phenotype differences between PCH and AIH suggest distinct pathogenic mechanisms for at least the IgG4+ PCH subgroup likely representing an overlap between allo- and auto-immunity. IgG4+ PCH was associated with fibrosis, but also highly responsive to increased immunosuppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2966-2977
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Fibrosis
  • IgG4
  • plasma cell hepatitis
  • steroid-responsiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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