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Avian Pathol. 1998;27(5):437-49. doi: 10.1080/03079459808419367.

Avian amyloidosis.

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Animal Health Service, Poultry Health Centre, Deventer.


Although amyloid deposits have been described for more than a century and a half, its proteinaceous and fibrillar nature was not revealed until after 1950. Biochemical characterization of amyloids has brought to light that several non-related proteins can re-organize into amyloid fibrils. In some domestic and caged wild birds, and especially waterfowl, amyloidosis is a well recognized pathological disorder and is an important cause of death in Anseriformes. Its regular occurrence in Galliformes has been recognized more recently, where amyloid deposits occur mainly in the joints in contrast to other species studied so far. Avian amyloidosis is systemic in nature, being classified by amino acid sequencing and, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies as of the AA-type amyloid, also named reactive or secondary amyloid. The pathogenesis of both AA and other types of amyloidosis is a complex phenomenon that is not well understood. It has been shown that the occurrence of certain predisposing conditions and chronic infections, inflammations or tumours increase strongly the serum levels of the hepatic acute phase reactant serum amyloid A (SAA), the precursor protein of amyloid protein A (AA). Although an increased pool of precursor protein is necessary for amyloid to develop and while certain amino acid substitutions may favour amyloidogenicity giving rise to unstable intermediate protein conformations that easily re-organize into fibrils, the action of other factors which are discussed in this review, seems of vital importance at the initiation of fibrillogenesis. As the clinical symptoms of amyloidosis generally are non-specific, diagnosis requires histopathology following biopsy or necropsy. AA-amyloidosis is a fatal progressive disease in birds and other species. Currently no curative treatment is available, therefore special attention should be paid to prevention focusing on hygiene and avoidance of stress.


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