Usefulness of serum IgG4 in the diagnosis and follow up of autoimmune pancreatitis: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis


Dr Raffaele Pezzilli, Department of Digestive Diseases and Internal Medicine, Sant'Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Via Massarenti, 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy. Email:


High circulating serum immunoglobulin G4 (IgG4) levels have been proposed as a marker of autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP). The aim of the present study was to review the data existing in the English literature on the usefulness of the IgG4 serum levels in the diagnosis and follow up of patients with AIP. A total of 159 patients with AIP and 1099 controls were described in seven selected papers reporting the usefulness of serum IgG4 in diagnosing AIP. In total, 304 controls had pancreatic cancer, 96 had autoimmune diseases, and the remaining 699 had other conditions. The summary receiver–operating characteristic curve analysis was carried out by means of Meta-DiSc open-access software. Serum IgG4 showed good accuracy in distinguishing between AIP and the overall controls, pancreatic cancer and other autoimmune diseases (area under the curve [± SE]: 0.920 ± 0.073, 0.914 ± 0.191, and 0.949 ± 0.024, respectively). The studies analyzed showed significantly heterogeneous specificity values in each of the three analyses performed. The analysis of the four studies comparing AIP and pancreatic cancers also showed significantly heterogeneous values of sensitivities and odds ratios. Regarding the usefulness of IgG4 as a marker of efficacy of steroid treatment, a decrease in the serum concentrations of IgG4 was found in the four available studies. The serum IgG4 subclass is a good marker of AIP, and its determination should be included in the diagnostic workup of this disease. However, the heterogeneity of the studies published until now means that more studies are necessary in order to better evaluate the true accuracy of IgG4 in discriminating AIP versus other autoimmune diseases.