Immunohistochemical characterization of amyloid proteins in sural nerves and clinical associations in amyloid neuropathy

K. Ii, R. A. Kyle, P. J. Dyck

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28 Scopus citations


To test whether immunohistochemical characterization of proteins in amyloid deposits in biopsied sural nerves gives reliable and useful diagnostic information using commercially available reagents, biopsy specimens of sural nerves from 38 patients with amyloid neuropathy were studied. Transthyretin (TTR) was detected in the amyloid deposits of 11 nerves, λ light chains (LC) in 8 nerves, κ LC in 7 nerves, and both λ and κ LC in 3 nerves. In 9 nerves, the amyloid deposits were too small to allow adequate immunohistochemical characterization of amyloid proteins in serial sections. Evidence that immunohistochemical characterization was correct came from: 1) evaluation of kin, 2) search for monoclonal proteins in the plasma, and 3) sequencing of the gene abnormalities in TTR + cases. In 9 of 11 TTR + cases, in which DNA could be obtained, sequencing of the gene showed that each of the 9 cases was heterozygous for a gene mutation; 7 had previously described mutations and 2 undescribed mutations. Therefore, in the nine sporadic cases without plasma monoclonal light chains, the immunohistochemical characterization correctly identified the protein in amyloid as transthyretin. Likewise, there was a high concordance between immunoglobulin light chains in plasma and light chains in amyloid in primary amyloidosis. Evaluation of the type, distribution, and severity of the neurologic symptoms and deficits showed: 1) the sensorimotor and autonomic neuropathy of amyloidosis characteristically affects proximal as well as distal limbs, and 2) the type of amyloidosis probably cannot be determined from the characteristics or severity of the neuropathy alone or from the location or size of amyloid deposits in nerve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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