Clinical Importance of Left Atrial Infiltration in Cardiac Transthyretin Amyloidosis

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2022 Jan;15(1):17-29. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2021.06.022. Epub 2021 Aug 18.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to characterize left atrial (LA) pathology in explanted hearts with transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM); LA mechanics using echocardiographic speckle-tracking in a large cohort of patients with ATTR-CM; and to study the association with mortality.

Background: The clinical significance of LA involvement in ATTR-CM is of great clinical interest.

Methods: Congo red staining and immunohistochemistry was performed to assess the presence, type, and extent of amyloid and associated changes in 5 explanted ATTR-CM atria. Echo speckle tracking was used to assess LA reservoir, conduit, contractile function, and stiffness in 906 patients with ATTR-CM (551 wild-type (wt)-ATTR-CM; 93 T60A-ATTR-CM; 241 V122I-ATTR-CM; 21 other).

Results: There was extensive ATTR amyloid infiltration in the 5 atria, with loss of normal architecture, vessels remodeling, capillary disruption, and subendocardial fibrosis. Echo speckle tracking in 906 patients with ATTR-CM demonstrated increased atrial stiffness (median [25th-75th quartile] 1.83 [1.15-2.92]) that remained independently associated with prognosis after adjusting for known predictors (lnLA stiff: HR: 1.23; 95% CI: 1.03-1.49; P = 0.029). There was substantial impairment of the 3 phasic functional atrial components (reservoir 8.86% [5.94%-12.97%]; conduit 6.5% [4.53%-9.28%]; contraction function 4.0% [2.29%-6.56%]). Atrial contraction was absent in 22.1% of patients whose electrocardiograms showed sinus rhythm (SR) "atrial electromechanical dissociation" (AEMD). AEMD was associated with poorer prognosis compared with patients with SR and effective mechanical contraction (P = 0.0018). AEMD conferred a similar prognosis to patients in atrial fibrillation.

Conclusions: The phenotype of ATTR-CM includes significant infiltration of the atrial walls, with progressive loss of atrial function and increased stiffness, which is a strong independent predictor of mortality. AEMD emerged as a distinctive phenotype identifying patients in SR with poor prognosis.

Keywords: amyloidosis; atrial function; atrial histology; atrial stiffness; atrial strain; echocardiography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial*
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Prealbumin* / genetics
  • Predictive Value of Tests


  • Prealbumin

Supplementary concepts

  • Amyloidosis, Hereditary, Transthyretin-Related