Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of transthyretin amyloidosis with cardiac involvement

Heart Fail Rev. 2019 Jul;24(4):521-533. doi: 10.1007/s10741-019-09776-3.


Amyloidosis is caused by extracellular deposition of insoluble abnormal fibrils constituted by misfolded proteins, which can modify tissue anatomy and hinder the function of multiple organs including the heart. Amyloidosis that can affect the heart includes mostly systemic amyloidosis (amyloid light chain, AL) and transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR). The latter can be acquired in elderly patients (ATTRwt), or be inherited in younger individuals (ATTRm). The diagnosis is demanding given the high phenotypic heterogeneity of the disease. Therefore, "red flags," which are suggestive features giving support to diagnostic suspicion, are extremely valuable. However, the lack of broad awareness among clinicians represents a major obstacle for early diagnosis and treatment of ATTR. Furthermore, recent implementation of noninvasive diagnostic techniques has revisited the need for endomyocardial biopsy (EMB). In fact, unlike AL amyloidosis, which requires tissue confirmation and typing for diagnosis, ATTR can now be diagnosed noninvasively with the combination of bone scintigraphy and the absence of a monoclonal protein. Securing the correct diagnosis is pivotal for the newly available therapeutic options targeting both ATTRm and ATTRwt, and are directed to either stabilization of the abnormal protein or the reduction of the production of transthyretin. The purpose of this article is to review the contemporary aspects of diagnosis and management of transthyretin amyloidosis with cardiac involvement, summarizing also the recent therapeutic advances with tafamidis, patisiran, and inotersen.

Keywords: ATTR; Cardiac amyloidosis; Diagnosis; Transthyretin; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / complications*
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / diagnosis*
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / drug therapy
  • Benzoxazoles / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Cardiomyopathies / drug therapy
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Oligonucleotides / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Small Interfering / therapeutic use
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods


  • Benzoxazoles
  • Biomarkers
  • Oligonucleotides
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Inotersen
  • patisiran
  • tafamidis

Supplementary concepts

  • Amyloidosis, Hereditary, Transthyretin-Related