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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the different classifications of 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

    Amyloidosis is a general term which refers to diseases in which a normal body protein has taken up a “wrong shape”, called amyloid. Why proteins do this is poorly understood (and the reasons probably vary depending on the protein concerned). Amyloid is cytotoxic - it kills cells - again the mechanisms of this are not well understood but this is the basis of the pathologies associated with the amyloidoses.

    The amyloidoses are often classified as being “local” (affecting one organ) or “systemic” (affecting more than one organ).

    Many local amyloidoses affect the brain. Examples include (with the name of the protein in brackets): Alzheimer's Disease (Abeta), Parkinson's Disease  (alpha-synuclein),  Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (prion protein) and Huntington's Disease (huntingtin). Type 2 diabetes (affecting the pancreas) also has an amyloid component - here the protein is called IAPP or amylin.

    A common example of systemic amyloidosis involves a protein called transthyretin. It is associated with systemic amyloidoses called senile systemic amyloidosis, familial amyloid polyneuropathy, and familial amyloid cardiomyopathy .

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