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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes amyloidosis?

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    This is a complicated question.

    The (about 20000) proteins in the human body need to adopt precise three-dimensional shapes (“fold”) so they can do their jobs. But sometimes proteins don't adopt their right shapes (they “misfold”), becoming amyloid. Why proteins do this is not well understood and probably the details depend on the particular protein.

    Some amyloid diseases (“amyloidoes”) are local. For example, Alzheimer's Disease involves a protein (called Abeta) which is only made in the brain. When it misfolds, (becomes amyloid), it kills neurons for reasons which are so far unclear, leading to Alzheimer's Disease.

    Other amyloides are systemic, which means that the amyloidogenic protein is found in many parts of the body. AA amyloidosis is an example of this. It involves a protein called  SAA which can form amyloid in the liver, spleen and kidney, leading to tissue damage in all cases.

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