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Hum Pathol. 2000 Jan;31(1):40-4.

Orthotopic liver transplantation for familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy: a pathological study.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (FAP), a hereditary form of systemic amyloidosis with clinically significant neuropathy and cardiomyopathy, is caused by a genetic defect of the transthyretin gene, which is mostly synthesized in the liver. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is thought to eliminate the amyloidogenic protein and currently is the only definitive treatment for this disorder. The aim of this study was to define the distribution and extent of amyloid deposition in tissues from these patients and evaluate the suitability of the resected FAP livers for transplantation into non-FAP patients. Surgical specimens from 14 patients removed at the time of OLT and autopsy tissues from 3 of the 14 were examined histologically using hematoxylin and eosin and Congo red-stained sections. The extent of amyloid deposits was evaluated, semiquantitatively graded from negative to marked, and correlated with clinical course and patient outcome. Amyloid deposits were consistently seen in hilar and vagus nerves. Liver lobular involvement was minimal in 1 and absent in the other 13 cases, with portal arterial amyloid deposits seen in 7 cases. At autopsy, extensive amyloid deposition in the heart was seen in all 3 cases with involvement of the conduction system. The extent of amyloid deposition at OLT did not correlate with the duration of symptoms before OLT or patient outcome after OLT. In conclusion, liver parenchymal involvement in FAP is minimal, and these explants are suitable for grafting in non-FAP patients. The recipients of such grafts must be carefully observed for the development of any amyloid-related disease, particularly cardiomyopathy. Of the tissues removed at OLT, the histopathologic confirmation of FAP is most consistently made by the examination of hilar and vagus nerves.

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