A 62 year-old woman who presented with an atraumatic acute abdomen was discovered to have haemoperitoneum with splenic rupture on urgent computed tomography and was immediately referred for life-saving emergency splenectomy. Histopathological examination revealed secondary splenic amyloidosis. The patient was later found to be suffering from infective endocarditis secondary to her permanent cardiac pacemaker. This report describes a patient who could have suffered from a long-standing infected vegetation on a permanent cardiac pacemaker, which led to splenic amyloidosis and spontaneous splenic rupture.
Congo red screening of routine biopsies at the University Hospital Kuala Lumpur revealed the following categories of amyloidosis: systemic AL (5.9%); systemic AA (3.2%); isolated atrial (14%); primary localized cutaneous (7.5%); other primary localized deposits (3.2%); localized intratumour (58%); and dystrophic (8.6%). Unlike in the West, AA amyloidosis in this population was usually secondary to leprosy or tuberculosis. Liver involvement in AL amyloidosis was shown to exhibit a sinusoidal pattern and differed from the vascular pattern of AA amyloidosis. Within the category of AA amyloidosis, there were two patterns of renal involvement--glomerular and vascular, with the glomerular pattern carrying a more ominous clinical picture. Notable among the localized amyloidoses were isolated atrial amyloidosis complicating chronic rheumatic heart disease, intratumour amyloidosis within nasopharyngeal carcinomas and dystrophic amyloidosis which occurred in fibrotic tissues.
Two forms of abnormal fibrillary protein deposition are considered: amyloidosis and fibrillary (immunotactoid) glomerulonephritis. Amyloid is characterised by an antiparallel, beta-pleated configuration which imparts to it a unique apple-green birefringence after Congo red staining. Inspite of its fairly constant physical properties, the chemical composition of amyloid fibrils is amazingly diverse, encomposing AA protein, light chain fragments, transthyretin, procalcitonin, islet amyloid polypeptide, atrial natriuretic peptides, beta-amyloid protein, beta-2-microglobulin, cystatin C, gelsolin, apolipoprotein A1, lyzozyme and their mutant variants. Amyloid P component and heparan sulphate proteoglycan are ubiquitous non-fibrillary amyloid components which have significant roles in the amyloidogenetic process, as do also precursor fibril proteins. Different amyloid fibril proteins relate to different amyloidosis syndromes and different histological patterns, and provide the basis for new diagnostic approaches to this disorder. Glomerular deposits in fibrillary glomerulonephritis (FGN), although often mistaken for amyloid, differ from it in its negative Congophilia, wider fibril width and highly organised, microtubular-tactoidal appearance ultrastructurally. FGN is essentially a primary glomerulopathy resulting in progressive renal failure. Despite certain differences, intriguing similarities between both entities of fibrillary deposition pose a challenge to researchers as to the mechanisms of abnormal protein crystallization and fibril formation in tissues.
Nineteen out of 121 consecutive cardiac biopsies from 107 patients were found to contain amyloid deposits on routine Congo red screening. Seventeen were left atrial appendages removed during mitral valvotomy for chronic rheumatic mitral valve disease while the remaining two were right atrial appendages excised during surgical repair of atrial septal defects. The distribution of amyloid deposits within the atria and their tinctorial characteristics are described. The high prevalence of atrial amyloidosis observed could not be attributed to generalized or senile amyloidosis. The possibility that this is a distinctive localized form of amyloidosis secondary to chronic heart disease is discussed.
Congo red screening of tissue blocks from 37 consecutive autopsies on leprosy patients revealed 7 cases of systemic amyloidosis, indicating a prevalence rate of 19%. 5 were males and 2 females. All were ethnic Chinese. Their ages ranged from 52 to 85 years with a mean of 69 years. Six had lepromatous leprosy while the remaining 1 had tuberculoid leprosy. In all 7 cases, the amyloid was AA in type, being permanganate-sensitive and immunoreactive with anti-human AA protein antiserum. Hepatic deposition was limited to blood vessels, a pattern typical of AA (secondary) amyloidosis. With regard to renal involvement, 4 showed a predominantly vascular pattern of infiltration while 3 exhibited the more ominous glomerular pattern. Three died of chronic renal failure and 2 of congestive cardiac failure attributable to renal and cardiac amyloidosis respectively. One patient succumbed to septicaemia and the remaining 1 to acute myocardial infarction. AA amyloidosis remains a serious and significant complication of leprosy among Malaysians.
Congo red screening of 211 consecutive cardiac biopsy specimens obtained during cardiac surgery from 167 patients revealed 26 (16%) instances of isolated atrial amyloidosis (IAA). The ages of IAA-positive patients ranged from 25 to 52 years (mean age, 39 years). Twenty-three (88%) IAA-positive biopsy specimens were from patients with chronic rheumatic heart disease (CRHD) while three (12%) were from patients with an atrial septal defect (ASD). The prevalence of IAA in the CRHD patients was 23%, appreciably higher than that in the ASD patients (15%) and in other patients with atrial biopsies. The prevalence of IAA in both CRHD and ASD patients was significantly higher (P < .001) than in controls. Controls consisted of 247 healthy adults who were autopsied after traumatic deaths, with an age range of 18 to 89 years (mean age, 38 years). Only seven (3%) control subjects were IAA positive; all were over 40 years of age. Isolated atrial amyloidosis deposits were permanganate resistant and immunohistochemically positive for human amyloid P (AP) protein and negative for human amyloid-associated (AA) protein and immunoglobulin light chains. They were observed as fine congophilic and birefringent deposits in intramyocardial vessel walls, along the myocardial sarcolemma, and in the subendocardium. There was associated myocyte hypertrophy but no atrophy. Electron microscopy demonstrated typical nonbranching amyloid fibrils. It is postulated that stretching of the atria in chronic heart disease results in a raised prevalence of IAA. Recent reports that IAA contains atrial natriuretic peptide, a polypeptide hormone product of atrial myocytes, supports this view.