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Volume 11, Pages 641-650
Mini-Review Article

Recent Insights into the Pathogenesis of Type AA Amyloidosis

1Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2Department of Infectious Diseases, Jessa Hospital, Hasselt, Belgium

Received 3 August 2010; Revised 4 February 2011; Accepted 17 February 2011

Academic Editor: Mauro Perretti

Copyright © 2011 Jeroen¬†van der Hilst.


The amyloidoses are a group of life-threatening diseases in which fibrils made of misfolded proteins are deposited in organs and tissues. The fibrils are stable, insoluble aggregates of precursor proteins that have adopted an antiparallel β-sheet structure. In type AA, or reactive, amyloidosis, the precursor protein of the fibrils is serum amyloid A (SAA). SAA is a 104-amino-acid protein that is produced in the liver in response to proinflammatory cytokines. Although the protein that is produced by the liver contains 104 amino acids, only the N-terminal 66–76 amino acids are found in amyloid fibrils. Furthermore, SAA has been shown to have an α-helical structure primarily. Thus, for SAA to be incorporated into an amyloid fibril, two processes have to occur: C-terminal cleavage and conversion into a β-sheet. Only a minority of patients with elevated SAA levels develop amyloidosis. Factors that contribute to the risk of amyloidosis include the duration and degree of SAA elevation, polymorphisms in SAA, and the type of autoinflammatory syndrome. In the Hyper-IgD syndrome, amyloidosis is less prevalent than in the other autoinflammatory diseases. In vitro work has shown that the isoprenoid pathway influences amyloidogenesis by farnesylated proteins. Although many proteins contain domains that have a potential for self-aggregation, amyloidosis is only a very rare event. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are chaperones that assist other proteins to attain, maintain, and regain a functional conformation. In this review, recent insights into the pathogenesis of amyloidosis are discussed, in addition to a new hypothesis for a role of HSPs in the pathogenesis of type AA.