Examination of abdominal subcutaneous fat aspirates is a practical, sensitive and specific method for the diagnosis of systemic amyloidosis. Here we describe the development and implementation of a clinical assay using mass spectrometry-based proteomics to type amyloidosis in subcutaneous fat aspirates. First, we validated the assay comparing amyloid-positive (n=43) and -negative (n=26) subcutaneous fat aspirates. The assay classified amyloidosis with 88% sensitivity and 96% specificity. We then implemented the assay as a clinical test, and analyzed 366 amyloid-positive subcutaneous fat aspirates in a 4-year period as part of routine clinical care. The assay had a sensitivity of 90%, and diverse amyloid types, including immunoglobulin light chain (74%), transthyretin (13%), serum amyloid A (%1), gelsolin (1%), and lysozyme (1%), were identified. Using bioinformatics, we identified a universal amyloid proteome signature, which has high sensitivity and specificity for amyloidosis similar to that of Congo red staining. We curated proteome databases which included variant proteins associated with systemic amyloidosis, and identified clonotypic immunoglobulin variable gene usage in immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis, and the variant peptides in hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis. In conclusion, mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of subcutaneous fat aspirates offers a powerful tool for the diagnosis and typing of systemic amyloidosis. The assay reveals the underlying pathogenesis by identifying variable gene usage in immunoglobulin light chains and the variant peptides in hereditary amyloidosis.
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