Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis (plural: amyloidoses) is a heterogeneous disease, or even considered a constellation of diseases, resulting in the deposition of relatively similar proteins. It has many causes and can affect any organ system.

The disease may have a male predilection. It typically affects middle-aged individuals around 60 years 5.

In view of the vast variety of clinical forms of amyloidosis, the potential spectrum of symptoms and signs is extremely broad, and can present in almost any way.

Amyloid comprises a group of proteins characterized by certain physical properties. There are at least 15 amyloid proteins, derived from diverse precursors. Some demonstrate the structural morphology of immunoglobulins, i.e. amyloid light chain.

In certain scenarios, the amyloid proteins are produced and deposited locally, whereas in others, the protein is distributed systemically. 

The majority occur in the systemic form:

  • AL (amyloid light chain)
    • synthesised by plasma cells, and seen in conditions with monoclonal proliferation of these cells
  • AA (amyloid associated)
    • derived from SAA (serum amyloid A) protein which is synthesised by the liver and forms part of the HDL3 lipoproteins
    • typically seen in chronic inflammatory disease or familial Mediterranean fever
  • 2M (amyloid ß2-microglobulin)
    • derived from ß2-microglobulin
    • seen in patients on haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis
  • ATTR (amyloid transthyretin)
    • seen in senile systemic amyloidosis/neuropathic cerebral angiopathy
    • is the most common form of familial amyloidosis 5

Accounts for ≈15% of amyloidosis:

  • A4ß2 (beta-amyloid protein): seen in Alzheimer disease
  • AANF (atrial natriuretic factor): isolated atrial amyloidosis
  • AIAPP (islet amyloid peptide): deposited in the pancreas in patients with type II diabetes mellitus
  • ACal: seen in medullary islet cell tumor

Amyloid deposition can occur in any part of the body, although some are more common and have specific imaging findings. These conditions are best discussed separately:

Amyloid is an insoluble extracellular proteinaceous substance composed of cross-ß-pleated sheets which display apple-green birefringence when viewed under polarised light after being treated with Congo red stain 1.

Share article

Article information

rID: 6720
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Amyloidoses (general)
  • Amyloidosis (general)

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: duodenal amyloid deposition
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Mediastinal amylo...
    Case 1: mediastinal amyloidoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: gastrointestinal amyloidosis
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3: cerebral amyloidoma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 4: bronchial and pulmonary diffuse nodular
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 5: cardiac amyloidosis
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.