An Unusual Cause of Melena and Abdominal Pain

Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Gastroenterology (Impact Factor: 16.72). 07/2012; 143(3):540, 870. DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.02.051
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Amyloidosis is characterized by extracellular deposition of abnormal protein. There are six types: primary, secondary, hemodialysis-related, hereditary, senile, and localized. Primary (AL) amyloidosis is associated with monoclonal light chains in serum and/or urine with 15% of patients having multiple myeloma. Secondary (AA) amyloidosis is associated with inflammatory, infectious, and neoplastic diseases. The presentation is protean, including macroglossia, a dilated and atonic esophagus, gastric polyps or enlarged folds, and luminal narrowing or ulceration of the colon. Amyloid deposition in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is greatest in the small intestine. The symptoms include diarrhea, steatorrhea, or constipation. Pseudo-obstruction carries a particularly grave prognosis, often not responding to pro-motility agents. Hepatic involvement is common, but the clinical manifestations are usually mild with hepatomegaly and an elevated alkaline phosphatase level. Biopsies to diagnose amyloidosis can be taken from the fat, kidney, intestine, or bone marrow. The safety of liver biopsies is controversial. With Congo Red stain, amyloid appears red in normal light and apple-green in polarized light. Treatment for AL amyloidosis is chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation; treatment for AA amyloidosis is control of the underlying disease. Amyloidosis should be considered in patients with proteinuria, cardiomyopathy, hepatomegaly (with mildly abnormal liver tests), peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, weight loss, and GI symptoms.
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    ABSTRACT: Systemic amyloidosis is characterized by the extracellular deposition of protein in an abnormal fibrillar form. Several different types of amyloidosis exist, each defined by the identity of their respective fibril precursor protein. Among patients with systemic amyloidosis, histological involvement of the gastrointestinal tract is very common but is often subclinical. Conversely, primary diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can cause systemic amyloidosis; for example, AA amyloidosis can occur secondary to IBD. The presence and pattern of gastrointestinal symptoms varies substantially, not only between the different types of amyloidosis but also within them. Typical clinical presentations, most of which are nonspecific, include macroglossia, hemorrhage, motility disorders, disturbance of bowel habit and malabsorption. Endoscopic and radiological features are also nonspecific, with the small intestine most commonly affected. Currently, the aim of therapy for amyloidosis is to slow amyloid formation by reducing the abundance of the fibril precursor protein. No specific treatments for the gastrointestinal symptoms of systemic amyloidosis are available; however, case reports and small published series encourage nutritional support for patients with motility disorders and pharmacological agents for treatment of diarrhea. Surgical procedures should be contemplated only in an emergency setting because of the risk of decompensation of organs affected by amyloid deposition.
    Nature Reviews Gastroenterology &#38 Hepatology 10/2009; 6(10):608-17. DOI:10.1038/nrgastro.2009.147 · 12.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Amyloidosis is a rare disorder, characterized by the extracellular deposition of an abnormal fibrillar protein, which disrupts tissue structure and function. Amyloidosis can be acquired or hereditary, and systemic or localized to a single organ, such as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Clinical manifestations may vary from asymptomatic to fatal forms. Primary amyloidosis (monoclonal immunoglobulin light chains, AL) is the most common form of amyloidosis. AL amyloidosis has been associated with plasma cell dyscrasias, such as, multiple myeloma. Secondary amyloidosis is caused by the deposition of fragments of the circulating acute-phase reactant, serum amyloid A protein (SAA). Common causes of AA amyloidosis are chronic inflammatory disorders. Although GI symptoms are usually nonspecific, histopathological patterns of amyloid deposition are associated with clinical and endoscopic features. Amyloid deposition in the muscularis mucosae, submucosa, and muscularis propria has been dominant in AL amyloidosis, leading to polypoid protrusions and thickening of the valvulae conniventes, whereas granular amyloid deposition mainly in the propria mucosae has been related to AA amyloidosis, resulting in the fine granular appearance, mucosal friability, and erosions. As a result, AL amyloidosis usually presents with constipation, mechanical obstruction, or chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction while AA amyloidosis presents with diarrhea and malabsorption Amyloidotic GI symptoms are mostly refractory and have a negative impact on quality of life and survival. Diagnosing GI amyloidosis requires high suspicion of evaluating endoscopists. Because of the absence of specific treatments for reducing the abundance of the amyloidogenic precursor protein, we should be aware of certain associations between patterns of amyloid deposition and clinical and endoscopic features.
    08/2011; 3(8):157-61. DOI:10.4253/wjge.v3.i8.157