Transthyretin (ATTR) amyloidosis: clinical spectrum, molecular pathogenesis and disease-modifying treatments

Yoshiki Sekijima
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 2015, 86 (9): 1036-43
Transthyretin (ATTR) amyloidosis is a life-threatening, gain-of-toxic-function disease characterised by extracellular deposition of amyloid fibrils composed of transthyretin (TTR). TTR protein destabilised by TTR gene mutation is prone to dissociate from its native tetramer to monomer, and to then misfold and aggregate into amyloid fibrils, resulting in autosomal dominant hereditary amyloidosis, including familial amyloid polyneuropathy, familial amyloid cardiomyopathy and familial leptomeningeal amyloidosis. Analogous misfolding of wild-type TTR results in senile systemic amyloidosis, now termed wild-type ATTR amyloidosis, characterised by acquired amyloid disease in the elderly. With the availability of genetic, biochemical and immunohistochemical diagnostic tests, patients with ATTR amyloidosis have been found in many nations; however, misdiagnosis is still common and considerable time is required before correct diagnosis in many cases. The current standard first-line treatment for hereditary ATTR amyloidosis is liver transplantation, which allows suppression of the main source of variant TTR. However, large numbers of patients are not suitable transplant candidates. Recently, the clinical effects of TTR tetramer stabilisers, diflunisal and tafamidis, were demonstrated in randomised clinical trials, and tafamidis has been approved for treatment of hereditary ATTR amyloidosis in European countries and in Japan. Moreover, antisense oligonucleotides and small interfering RNAs for suppression of variant and wild-type TTR synthesis are promising therapeutic approaches to ameliorate ATTR amyloidosis and are currently in phase III clinical trials. These newly developed therapies are expected to be effective for not only hereditary ATTR amyloidosis but also wild-type ATTR amyloidosis.

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