In general, amyloidosis is caused by the buildup of an abnormal protein called amyloid. Amyloid is produced in your bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ. The specific cause of your condition depends on the type of amyloidosis you have.

There are several types of amyloidosis, including:

  • Immunoglobulin light chain (AL) amyloidosis, the most common type, can affect your heart, kidneys, skin, nerves and liver. It was previously known as primary amyloidosis. It occurs when your bone marrow produces abnormal antibodies that can't be broken down. The antibodies are deposited in your tissues as amyloid, interfering with normal function.
  • AA amyloidosis mostly affects your kidneys but occasionally your digestive tract, liver or heart. It was previously known as secondary amyloidosis. It occurs along with chronic infectious or inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Hereditary (familial) amyloidosis is an inherited disorder that often affects the liver, nerves, heart and kidneys. One type is caused by a certain amyloid (transthyretin amyloid) that can affect the nervous system or the heart. African-Americans have a greater risk of this type than do Caucasians. It is thought to be a significant cause of heart failure in African-American men.
  • Dialysis-related amyloidosis develops when proteins in blood are deposited in joints and tendons — causing pain, stiffness and fluid in the joints, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. This type generally affects people on long-term dialysis.
Jul. 29, 2014

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