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Circ Res. 2004 Apr 30;94(8):1008-10. Epub 2004 Mar 25.

Human amyloidogenic light chains directly impair cardiomyocyte function through an increase in cellular oxidant stress.

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  • 1Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute and Amyloid Treatment and Research Program, Evans Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass 02118, USA.


Primary amyloidosis is a systemic disorder characterized by the clonal production and tissue deposition of immunoglobulin light chain (LC) proteins. Congestive heart failure remains the greatest cause of death in primary amyloidosis, due to the development of a rapidly progressive amyloid cardiomyopathy. Amyloid cardiomyopathy is largely unresponsive to current heart failure therapies, and is associated with a median survival of less than 6 months and a 5-year survival of less than 10%. The mechanisms underlying this disorder, however, remain unknown. In this report, we demonstrate that physiological levels of human amyloid LC proteins, isolated from patients with amyloid cardiomyopathy (cardiac-LC), specifically alter cellular redox state in isolated cardiomyocytes, marked by an increase in intracellular reactive oxygen species and upregulation of the redox-sensitive protein, heme oxygenase-1. In contrast, vehicle or control LC proteins isolated from patients without cardiac involvement did not alter cardiomyocyte redox status. Oxidant stress imposed by cardiac-LC proteins further resulted in direct impairment of cardiomyocyte contractility and relaxation, associated with alterations in intracellular calcium handling. Cardiomyocyte dysfunction induced by cardiac-LC proteins was independent of neurohormonal stimulants, vascular factors, or extracellular fibril deposition, and was prevented through treatment with a superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic. This study suggests that cardiac dysfunction in amyloid cardiomyopathy is directly mediated by LC protein-induced cardiomyocyte oxidant stress and alterations in cellular redox status, independent of fibril deposition. Antioxidant therapies or treatment strategies aimed at eliminating circulating LC proteins may therefore be beneficial in the treatment of this fatal disease.

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