Review. Reflections on amyloidosis in Papua New Guinea

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Nov 27;363(1510):3701-5. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0073.


The amyloidoses comprise a heterogeneous group of diseases in which 1 out of more than 25 human proteins aggregates into characteristic beta-sheet fibrils with some unique properties. Aggregation is nucleation dependent. Among the known amyloid-forming constituents is the prion protein, well known for its ability to transmit misfolding and disease from one individual to another. There is increasing evidence that other amyloid forms also may be transmissible but only if certain prerequisites are fulfilled. One of these forms is systemic AA-amyloidosis in which an acute-phase reactant, serum AA, is over-expressed and, possibly after cleavage, aggregates into amyloid fibrils, causing disease. In a mouse model, this disorder can easily be transmitted from one animal to another both by intravenous and oral routes. Also, synthetic amyloid-like fibrils made from defined small peptides have this property, indicating a prion-like transmission mechanism. Even some fibrils occurring in the environment can transmit AA-amyloidosis in the murine model. AA-amyloidosis is particularly common in certain areas of Papua New Guinea, probably due to the endemicity of malaria and perhaps genetic predisposition. Now, when kuru is disappearing, more interest should be focused on the potentially lethal systemic AA-amyloidosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Amyloidosis / epidemiology*
  • Amyloidosis / metabolism
  • Amyloidosis / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Papua New Guinea / epidemiology
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein / metabolism*


  • Amyloid
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein