1Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA, USA.
2Department of Pathology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, OR, USA.
3Department of Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA, USA.
Objectives: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) can be difficult to distinguish in end-stage liver disease. Previous studies have shown that immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM) immunostaining can differentiate AIH from PBC in needle core biopsy specimens, and we seek to extend these data to cirrhotic liver explants, in which the histology of AIH or PBC may be indiscernible.
Methods: Clinical data were reviewed for 20 patients with PBC cirrhosis and 16 with AIH cirrhosis. Immunohistochemistry for IgM and IgG was performed on representative blocks of explanted livers. Three high-power fields with the highest concentration of IgG- and IgM-positive plasma cells were counted and compared.
Results: The average number of IgM-positive plasma cells was significantly higher in PBC explants (7.3) than in AIH (1.8) (P = .001). There was no significant difference in the average number of IgG-positive plasma cells in PBC (2.5) and AIH (2.8) (P = .8). The IgG/IgM ratio was more likely to be less than 1.0 in PBC (17/20, 85%) compared with AIH (7/16, 44%) (P = .01).
Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that the absolute number of IgM plasma cells is greater in explants of cirrhotic PBC compared with AIH. These findings may be helpful in the evaluation of cryptogenic cirrhosis.