Hereditary cystatin C amyloid angiopathy: genetic, clinical, and pathological aspects

Brain Pathol. 2006 Jan;16(1):55-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2006.tb00561.x.


Hereditary cystatin C amyloid angiopathy (HCCAA) is a rare, fatal amyloid disease in young people in Iceland caused by a mutation in cystatin C, which is an inhibitor of several cysteine proteinases, such as cathepsins S, B, and K. The same mutation in cystatin C, L68Q, has been found in all patients examined so far pointing to a common founder. Most of the families can be traced to a region in the northwest of Iceland, around Breidafjordur bay. Mutated cystatin C forms amyloid, predominantly in brain arteries and arterioles, but also to a lesser degree in tissues outside the central nervous system such as skin, lymph nodes, testis, spleen, submandibular salivary glands, and adrenal cortex. The amyloid deposition in the vessel walls causes thickening of the walls leading to occlusion or rupture and resulting in brain hemorrhage. Although the amyloid can be detected outside the brain, the clinical manifestation is restricted to the brain, and usually consists of repeated hemorrhages leading to paralysis. Sometimes the initial signs of hemorrhage are dementia and personality changes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / genetics*
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / pathology*
  • Child
  • Cystatin C
  • Cystatins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Pedigree
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Amyloid
  • CST3 protein, human
  • Cystatin C
  • Cystatins