Amyloidosis can affect different organs in different people, and there are different types of amyloid. Amyloidosis frequently affects the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure.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.
Diagnosis of amyloidosis requires tissue biopsy. Biopsy is assessed for evidence of characteristic amyloid deposits. The tissue is treated with various stains. The most useful stain in the diagnosis of amyloid is Congo red, which, combined with polarized light, makes the amyloid proteins appear apple-green on microscopy. Also, thioflavin T stain may be used.An abdominal fat biopsy is not completely sensitive and so, sometimes, biopsy of an involved organ (such as the kidney) is required to achieve a diagnosis. For example, in AL amyloidosis only 85% of people will have a positive fatp
Amyloidosis is rare, the diagnosis is often delayed or the condition goes undiagnosed. Therefore, it is difficult to know exactly how many people are affected by this disease. However, researchers estimate that between 1,500 and 2,500 people develop AL amyloidosis each year in the United States. Hereditary and AA amyloidosis are much less common.