Respiratory Tract Amyloidosis. State-of-the-Art Review with a Focus on Pulmonary Involvement

Lung. 2015 Dec;193(6):875-83. doi: 10.1007/s00408-015-9791-x. Epub 2015 Aug 27.


Amyloidosis is a constellation of disease entities characterized by abnormal extracellular deposition and accumulation of protein and protein derivatives, which show apple-green birefringence when stained with Congo red and viewed under polarized light. Amyloid can infiltrate virtually all organ systems and can display multiple and diverse imaging findings. Pathologically, respiratory involvement occurs in 50 % of patients with amyloidosis, and its clinical signs and symptoms vary depending on whether the disease is systemic or localized. The four main patterns of respiratory tract involvement are tracheobronchial, nodular parenchymal, diffuse alveolar septal, and lymphatic. Imaging findings of amyloidosis are nonspecific and vary in each pattern; knowledge about the disease impairment type is thus very important, and amyloidosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of other very common diseases, such as infectious diseases, neoplasms, and vasculitis. This literature review describes the main clinical and imaging manifestations of amyloidosis, focusing on respiratory tract involvement and differential diagnosis.

Keywords: Amyloidosis; Computed tomography; Imaging; Lung diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloidosis / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory System / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory System / pathology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / diagnosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed