Amyloidosis (am-uh-loi-DO-sis) is the buildup of a protein called amyloid in your body’s tissues or organs. Amyloid isn’t normally found in the body, but it can be formed from several different types of protein.
Amyloid proteins may affect only a single organ or, often, are spread throughout the body (systemic). They can affect different organs in different people, and there are different types of amyloid proteins. Depending on the type of amyloidosis, amyloid can deposit in the heart, kidneys, nervous system, spleen, digestive tract, or other organs and tissues.
Severe amyloidosis can result in life-threatening damage to these organs or even failure.
Amyloidosis is not cancer.
While occasionally mislabeled, Amyloidosis is not cancer. Cancer is characterized by rapid and uncontrolled cell growth. Amyloidosis is characterized by the production of an abnormal protein that aggregates.
Below we offer excellent educational resources on Amyloidosis; additional resources and information about the disease, treatment, and recovery can be found on our Resources and Blog pages.
Amyloidosis Awareness (narrated by Michael York)
Amyloidosis Awareness Booklet (PDF for download; sponsored by Amyloidosis Support Groups)
Understanding Amyloidosis (Amyloidosis Research Consortium)
AL amyloidosis is the most common type of amyloidosis and involves proteins called light chains.
Light chains make up part of the structure of immunoglobulins (antibodies) which play an important part in the immune system. They are produced by plasma cells in the bone marrow. In AL amyloidosis, abnormal plasma cells make excessive amounts of abnormal light chain proteins. Instead of forming immunoglobulin, they become misfolded and deposit as amyloid in various organs of the body.
Hereditary ATTR (hATTR / ATTRv) amyloidosis is passed down through families.
Hereditary ATTR amyloidosis is caused by a fault or mutation in the transthyretin (TTR) gene which is inherited (i.e. runs in families). The mutation results in an abnormal TTR protein that is unstable and readily misfolds, forming aggregates which deposit as amyloid in various organs and tissues in the body. TTR is mostly made in the liver. Its role is to transport the hormone thyroxine and retinol (Vitamin A) around the body, hence its name transthyretin.
Wild-type ATTR Amyloidosis (ATTRwt) is age related and mainly affects the heart.
TTR is a natural protein made mostly in the liver. Its role is to transport the hormone thyroxine and retinol (Vitamin A) around the body, hence its name transthyretin. In ATTR amyloidosis, the TTR protein becomes unstable, misfolds and forms amyloid deposits in various organs of the body.