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Mod Pathol. 2011 Apr;24(4):606-12. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2010.226. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

IgG4 plasma cells in inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor: inflammatory marker or pathogenic link?

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232-2561, USA.


Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor is a rare mesenchymal neoplasm that harbors an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangement in the majority of cases. It is composed of fibroblastic-myofibroblastic cells with a characteristic inflammatory infiltrate that consists predominantly of plasma cells. In contrast, IgG4-related sclerosing disease is a recently described multisystem disorder with a histological appearance similar to inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor. The plasma cell infiltrate is characteristic in IgG4-related sclerosing disease and has been studied as a tool to render this diagnosis. Histologically, the two disorders overlap, although there are significant clinical differences. This study analyzes the histological appearance of 36 inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors, compares them with IgG4-related sclerosing disease, and assesses the plasma cell profile using immunohistochemistry to determine the range and proportion of IgG4 plasma cells. The majority of patients were children and young adults, mainly with solitary masses and no clinical manifestations of IgG4-related sclerosing disease. ALK-1 positivity was present in 23 cases (64%). None showed obliterative phlebitis or prominent lymphoid aggregates. Of 36 inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors, 15 cases showed an IgG4/IgG ratio ≥0.10, a cutoff described in the literature as supportive of IgG4-related sclerosing disease and up to 33 IgG4-positive plasma cells per high-power field indicating a mild-to-moderate increase as compared with IgG4-related sclerosing disease. Currently, the diagnostic recognition of inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor is based on clinicopathological features and diagnostic adjuncts, such as ALK-1 reactivity and genetic tests. Although inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor and IgG4-related sclerosing disease are distinct entities, a subset of inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors exhibit an IgG4/IgG ratio that is within the range for IgG4-related sclerosing disease. Therefore, the ratio alone cannot be used as a reliable discriminator between these two entities and other clinical and pathologic features must always be taken into account.

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