Clinical aspects of systemic amyloid diseases

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Nov 10;1753(1):11-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2005.08.014. Epub 2005 Sep 2.


Amyloidosis is a protein misfolding disorder in which soluble proteins aggregate as insoluble amyloid fibrils. Protein aggregates and amyloid fibrils cause functional and structural organ damage respectively. To date, at least 24 different proteins have been recognized as causative agents of amyloid diseases, localized or systemic. The two most common forms of systemic amyloidosis are light-chain (AL) amyloidosis and reactive AA amyloidosis due to chronic inflammatory diseases. beta(2)-microglobulin amyloidosis is a common complication associated with long-term hemodialysis. Hereditary systemic amyloidoses are a group of autosomal dominant disorders caused by mutations in the genes of several plasma proteins. Heterogeneity in clinical presentation, pattern of amyloid-related organ toxicity and rate of disease progression is observed among systemic amyloidoses. In particular, beta(2)-microglobulin presents unique clinical features compared to the other systemic forms. The phenotypic features of hereditary systemic amyloidoses may instead overlap those of the two more common forms of acquired amyloidoses mentioned above and therefore a correct diagnosis can not rely only on clinical grounds. Unequivocal identification of the deposited protein is essential in order to avoid misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. Amyloid deposits can be reabsorbed and organ dysfunction reversed if the concentration of the amyloidogenic protein is reduced or zeroed. At present, the most effective approach to treatment of the systemic amyloidoses involves shutting down, or substantially reducing the synthesis of the amyloid precursor, or, as in the case of beta(2)-microglobulin, promoting its clearance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyloid
  • Amyloidosis* / diagnosis
  • Amyloidosis* / etiology
  • Amyloidosis* / genetics
  • Amyloidosis* / therapy
  • Amyloidosis, Familial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects


  • Amyloid