High prevalence of wild-type transthyretin deposition in patients with idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome: a common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome in the elderly

Hum Pathol. 2011 Nov;42(11):1785-91. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2011.03.004.


Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common type of entrapment neuropathy. However, the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome remains unclear in most cases. Senile systemic amyloidosis, induced by wild-type transthyretin deposition, is a prevalent aging-related disorder and often accompanied by carpal tunnel syndrome. In this study, we measured the frequency of unrecognized wild-type transthyretin deposition in patients with idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome. One hundred twenty-three patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, including 100 idiopathic patients, treated by carpal tunnel release surgery were analyzed. Tenosynovial tissues obtained at surgery were analyzed by Congo red and immunohistochemical staining. If staining for transthyretin was positive, the entire transthyretin gene was analyzed by direct DNA sequencing. We also analyzed tenosynovial tissues from 32 autopsy cases as controls. Thirty-four patients (34.0%) with idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome showed amyloid deposition in the tenosynovial tissue, and all amyloid showed specific immunolabeling with antitransthyretin antibody. Direct DNA sequencing of the entire transthyretin gene did not reveal any mutations, indicating that all amyloid deposits were derived form wild-type transthyretin. Statistical analysis using logistic regression showed that the prevalence of transthyretin deposition in the idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome group was significantly higher than that in controls (odds ratio, 15.8; 95% confidence interval, 3.3-5.7), and age and male sex were independent risk factors for transthyretin amyloid deposition. Our results demonstrate that wild-type transthyretin deposition is a common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome in elderly men. It is likely that many patients develop carpal tunnel syndrome as an initial symptom of senile systemic amyloidosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyloidosis / complications
  • Amyloidosis / genetics
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / etiology*
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plaque, Amyloid / genetics
  • Prealbumin / genetics*
  • Prealbumin / metabolism*


  • Prealbumin