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Different Types

Two types of amyloidosis are most likely to affect the heart. One involves “light chain” proteins that are made by plasma cells in the bone marrow. The other involves transthyretin, a protein made in the liver that helps carry thyroid hormone and retinol (vitamin A) in the bloodstream.

Amyloid light chain (AL)Amyloid transthyretin (ATTR or TTR)

AL amyloidosis is due to an underlying malignancy (usually multiple myeloma, which is a type of cancer) of plasma cells that make abnormal proteins.

AL tends to be more serious and affects many other organs. In addition to the heart, it can occur in the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, tongue, nerves and other parts of the body.

AL usually progresses more quickly.

ATTR amyloidosis is the most common type of cardiac (heart) amyloidosis. ATTR can be:
  • Inherited from a parent (called variant or mutant ATTR) – You’re born with a variation or mutation in the transthyretin gene that causes the transthyretin protein to fall apart into pieces and then deposit in the heart. Not everyone with a gene variant will develop the condition.
  • Not hereditary but related to aging and mostly a disease of older adults (called wild type ATTR); this occurs more often in men than women and usually over age 60.

Knowing Matters

It’s important to know which type of amyloidosis you or your loved one has. That’s because the type:

  1. Can affect the heart and/or other organ systems in different ways
  2. Will determine what treatment is needed
  3. May be hereditary (passed down in your family), and you’ll want to know which gene variant you have so that relatives can be tested
  4. Will have different prognosis, meaning the course of the disease is different
  • Last Edited 01/23/2023