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Using this staining method from a heart biopsy sample, amyloid fibrils composed of proteins, are stained light pink. Notice how the amyloid deposits are seen everywhere and encircle each heart cell.
AL (primary) amyloidosis is the most common form of the disease. The body's immune system produces abnormal forms of antibodies called "light chains," (the "L" in "AL" amyloidosis).
Normally, cells in the bone marrow called "plasma cells" produce proteins called antibodies that fight infections. If a plasma cell becomes cancerous, it may produce extra pieces of antibodies called "light chains" (the "L" in "AL" amyloidosis). These light chains circulate in the bloodstream, and can deposit in organs throughout the body, causing organ damage.
Some of the most common organs affected by AL (primary) amyloidosis include:
Life expectancy depends on each individual's specific case – and most importantly on the degree of heart involvement.
Using this staining method from a heart biopsy sample, amyloid fibrils are stained blue. Notice how the amyloid deposits are seen everywhere and encircle each heart cell.
The difference between AL (primary) amyloidosis and multiple myeloma
AL amyloidosis is closely related to a type of bone marrow cancer called "myeloma" or "multiple myeloma," another disease in which identical clones of antibody-producing cells grow rapidly.
In multiple myeloma, the main problem is the growth of abnormal cells in the bone marrow. In AL (primary) amyloidosis, the main problem is the build up of light chains produced by the abnormal cells.
There can be overlap between the two diseases, and patients are frequently diagnosed with both myeloma and AL (primary) amyloidosis.
AL (primary) amyloidosis treatment options
Treatment of AL (primary) amyloidosis has two goals:
Improve the function of the involved organs (such as the heart)
Decrease the production of the abnormal light chains
AL primary amyloidosis treatment team
Typically, your treatment team includes:
A hematologist, who manages the specific treatment aimed at reducing light chain production
Specialists who help manage the associated organ problem (such as a cardiologist for heart involvement)
A bone marrow transplant physician, if this is a treatment option for you
Learn more about the following treatment options for AL (primary) amyloidosis:
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