Background: Reactive systemic (AA, secondary) amyloidosis occurs in chronic inflammatory diseases, and most patients present with nephropathy. The amyloid fibrils are derived from the circulating acute-phase reactant serum amyloid A protein (SAA), but the relation between production of fibril precursor protein, amyloid load, and clinical outcome in AA and other types of amyloidosis is unclear.
Methods: We studied amyloidotic organ function and survival prospectively for 12-117 months in 80 patients with systemic AA amyloidosis in whom serum SAA concentration was measured monthly and visceral amyloid deposits were assessed annually by serum amyloid P component scintigraphy. Underlying inflammatory diseases were treated as vigorously as possible.
Findings: Amyloid deposits regressed in 25 of 42 patients whose median SAA values were within the reference range (<10 mg/L) throughout follow-up, and amyloidotic organ function stabilised or improved in 39 of these cases. Outcome varied substantially among patients whose median SAA concentration exceeded 10 mg/L, but amyloid load increased and organ function deteriorated in most of those whose SAA was persistently above 50 mg/L. Estimated survival at 10 years was 90% in patients whose median SAA was under 10 mg/L, and 40% among those whose median SAA exceeded this value (p=0.0009).
Interpretation: Although isolated amyloid fibrils are stable in vitro, AA amyloid deposits exist in a state of dynamic turnover, and outcome is favourable in AA amyloidosis when the SAA concentration is maintained below 10 mg/L. The potential for amyloid to regress and for the function of amyloidotic organs to recover support therapeutic strategies to decrease the supply of amyloid fibril precursor proteins in amyloidosis generally.