What is amyloidosis?

Amyloidosis is a rare protein accumulation disease. The word amyloidosis derives from the fact that the accumulated protein creates a homogenous mass, called amyloid, which can be detected using microscopy on a tissue sample. A number of different proteins can accumulate as amyloid. In case of a suspected accumulation disease where amyloid has been detected, the next step is to determine the type of protein that forms the building blocks for the accumulation. It may be many different proteins, and therefore many different underlying illnesses that cause the accumulation.

Accumulation of amyloid occurs in different tissue and organs. For some patients, it is a case of just a single organ experincing accumulation, whereas for others, multiple organs may be involved. Some organs are more frequently affected than others. Frequently affected organs are kidneys, heart, liver, skin, tongue and intestines.

Amyloidosis is classified according to the accumulating protein, and according to the underlying illness causing accumulation. There are several, widely different illnesses, which each have their own typical presentation, e.g. in relation to age and most frequently affected organs.

Early and reliable diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment of the disease. Treatment of amyloidosis has generally become more effective and has experienced great progress in recent years.