Cardiac amyloidosis: An update on pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment

Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2018 Jan;28(1):10-21. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2017.07.004. Epub 2017 Jul 13.


The amyloidoses are a group of systemic diseases characterized by organ deposition of misfolded protein fragments of diverse origins. The natural history of the disease, involvement of other organs, and treatment options vary significantly based on the protein of origin. In AL amyloidosis, amyloid protein is derived from immunoglobulin light chains, and most often involves the kidneys and the heart. ATTR amyloidosis is categorized as mutant or wild-type depending on the genetic sequence of the transthyretin (TTR) protein produced by the liver. Wild-type ATTR amyloidosis mainly involves the heart, although the reported occurrence of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal stenosis and biceps tendon rupture in these patients speaks to more generalized protein deposition. Mutant TTR is marked by cardiac and/or peripheral nervous system involvement. Cardiac involvement is associated with symptoms of heart failure, and dictates the clinical course of the disease. Cardiac amyloidosis can be diagnosed noninvasively by echocardiography, cardiac MRI, or nuclear scintigraphy. Endomyocardial biopsy may be needed in the case of equivocal imaging findings or discordant data. Treatment is aimed at relieving congestive symptoms and targeting the underlying amyloidogenic process. This includes anti-plasma cell therapy in AL amyloidosis, and stabilization of the TTR tetramer or inhibition of TTR protein production in ATTR amyloidosis. Cardiac transplantation can be considered in highly selected patients in tandem with therapy aimed at suppressing the amyloidogenic process, and appears associated with durable long-term survival.

Keywords: AL amyloidosis; Restrictive cardiomyopathy; Transthyretin amyloidosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / diagnosis
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / genetics
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / physiopathology
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / therapy*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive / genetics
  • Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive / therapy*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Genetic Markers

Supplementary concepts

  • Amyloidosis, Hereditary, Transthyretin-Related