Skip to content

Information and Resources

Amyloidosis

Font Size
A
A
A

Amyloidosis is a condition in which an abnormal protein called amyloid builds up in your tissues and organs. When it does, it affects their shape and how they work. Amyloidosis is a serious health problem that can lead to life-threatening organ failure.

Causes and Types of Amyloidosis

Many different proteins can lead to the formation of amyloid deposits, but only a few have been linked to significant health problems. The type of protein and where it collects determines the type of amyloidosis you have. Amyloid deposits may collect throughout your body or in just one area.

There are different types of amyloidosis, including:

Primary (systemic AL) amyloidosis. This occurs without a known cause, but it has been seen in people with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. This is the most common type of amyloidosis. "Systemic" means it affects the entire body. The most commonly affected body parts are the kidney, heart, liver, intestines, and certain nerves. AL stands for "amyloid light chains," which is the type of protein responsible for this type of amyloidosis.

Secondary (systemic AA) amyloidosis. This is the result of another chronic inflammatory disease, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), and certain cancers. It most commonly affects the spleen, kidneys, liver, adrenal gland, and lymph nodes. AA means the amyloid type A protein causes this type of amyloidosis.

Dialysis-related amyloidosis (DRA).  This is more common in older adults and people who have been on dialysis for more than 5 years. This form of amyloidosis is caused by deposits of beta-2 microglobulin that build up in the blood. Deposits can occur in many different tissues, but most commonly affects bones, joints, and tendons.

Familial, or hereditary, amyloidosis (AF). This is a rare form that is passed down through families. It is caused by an abnormal amyloid transthyretin (TTR) protein, which is made in the liver. This protein is responsible for the most common forms of hereditary amyloidosis.

Senile systemic amyloidosis (SSA). This is caused deposits of normal TTR in the heart and other tissues. It occurs most commonly in older men.

Organ-specific amyloidosis. This is cause deposits of amyloid protein in single organs, including the skin (cutaneous amyloidosis).

While some types of amyloid deposits have been linked to Alzheimer's disease, the brain is rarely involved in systemic amyloidosis.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
psoriasis
How to keep flares at bay.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
spinal compression fracture
Treatment options.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.