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Amyloidosis - An Overview Of This Rare Disorder (And The Amyloid Hypothesis)

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Amyloidosis - An Overview Of This Rare Disorder

When it comes to knowledge of the human body, most of us, doctors notwithstanding, are operating on a very elementary level.

For example, take the protein amyloid. It is rare and abnormal, but our own bone marrow can produce it and deposit it into any tissue or organ.

When the protein builds up within the organs, this is know as amyloidosis. This rare disease can affect many different organs in different people. There is no cure, but treatment can limit the product of amyloid protein. (1)

The most common type of amyloidosis is AL amyloidosis. This stands for amyloid light chains and describes the antibodies made by the liver that can’t be broken down. Secondary, or AA, amyloidosis stands for amyloid type A protein, which occurs with inflammatory disease (such as the rheumatoid diseases) or chronic infections. (2)

There is no known cause for AL amyloidosis, but risk factors for amyloidosis include:

• Sex (70% of sufferers are male)
• Age (AL Amyloidosis mostly hits people between 60 and 70 years of age)
• Kidney dialysis (as dialysis can’t always remove proteins in the blood. This can lead to protein buildup, although with modern dialysis, this is less and less common)
• Patients with multiple myeloma cancer
• Family history (hereditary amyloidosis is known as ATTR and is caused by mutations in the TTR gene. New therapies have been shown to slow the growth of this specific branch of amyloidosis) (3)

Although many different proteins can lead to amyloid deposits, only a few have led to major health problems. For example, cardiac amyloidosis can make the walls of the heart stiff. Less blood flow to the heart can also mean that it may eventually have problems pumping. (2)

Most amyloid patients do have a build-up of amyloid protein in their kidneys.

Amyloidosis is usually a multi-factor disease (3). Patients may be referred to many specialists to get treatment. In the beginning, blood and urine samples can detect abnormal proteins. (2) A biopsy will be able to detect the specific abnormal protein.

Imaging can also help to show the amount of damage to the heart, the spleen and the liver.

 

 

1.    Amyloidosis. The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amyloidosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353178Retrieved 14 February 2019.

2.    Amyloidosis. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/lymphoma/amyloidosis-symptoms-causes-treatments#1Retrieved 14 February 2019. 

3.    Amyloidosis: Rare Disease Database. National Organization For Rare Disorders. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/amyloidosis/ Retrieved 14 February 2019.

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4.    Zhang, Sarah. Is The Leading Theory About Alzheimer’s Wrong? The Economist. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/02/alzheimers-amyloid-hypothesis/517185/Retrieved 14 February 2019.

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Why no mention of the other types of amyloidosis? (hATTR & countless subtypes not so easily treated though new RNAi drugs could help)

February 26, 2019 - 7:56am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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