Disease Overview: Immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis is a clonal, nonproliferative plasma cell disorder in which fragments of immunoglobulin light or heavy chain are deposited in tissues. Clinical features depend on organs involved but can include restrictive cardiomyopathy, nephrotic syndrome, hepatic dysfunction, peripheral/autonomic neuropathy, and “atypical multiple myeloma.”. Diagnosis: Tissue biopsy stained with Congo red demonstrating amyloid deposits with apple-green birefringence is required for diagnosis. Invasive organ biopsy is not required because amyloid deposits can be found in bone marrow, salivary gland, or subcutaneous fat aspirate in 85% of patients. Verification that amyloid is composed of immunoglobulin light chains is mandatory. The gold standard is laser capture mass spectroscopy. Prognosis: N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), serum troponin T, and difference between involved and uninvolved immunoglobulin free light chain values are used to classify patients into four groups of similar size; median survivals are 94.1, 40.3, 14.0, and 5.8 months. Therapy: All patients with a systemic amyloid syndrome require therapy to prevent deposition of amyloid in other organs and prevent progressive organ failure. Stem cell transplant (SCT) is preferred, but only 20% of patients are eligible. Requirements for safe SCT include systolic blood pressure >90 mm Hg, troponin T < 0.06 ng/mL, age < 70 years, and serum creatinine ≤1.7 mg/dL. Nontransplant candidates can be offered melphalan-dexamethasone or cyclophosphamide-bortezomib-dexamethasone. Daratumumab appears to be highly active in AL amyloidosis. Antibodies designed to dissolve existing amyloid deposits are under study. Future Challenges: Delayed diagnosis remains a major obstacle to initiating effective therapy. Educational Objectives: Upon completion of this educational activity, participants will be better able to: Master recognition of clinical presentations that should raise suspicion of amyloidosis. Understand simple techniques for confirming the diagnosis and providing material to classify the protein subunit. Recognize that a tissue diagnosis of amyloidosis does not indicate whether the amyloid is systemic or of immunoglobulin light chain origin. Understand the roles of the newly introduced chemotherapeutic and investigational antibody regimens for the therapy of light chain amyloidosis.
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