Neuromuscular amyloidosis: Unmasking the master of disguise

Marcus V. Pinto, P. James B. Dyck, Teerin Liewluck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Amyloidosis refers to an etiologically heterogeneous group of protein misfolding diseases, pathologically characterized by extracellular amyloid fibrils producing congophillic amorphous deposits in organs and tissues, which may lead to severe organ dysfunction and mortality. Clinical presentations vary and are often nonspecific, depending on what organs or tissues are affected. In systemic amyloidosis, the peripheral nervous system is commonly affected, whereas the skeletal muscles are only rarely involved. Immunoglobulin light chain (AL) amyloidosis and hereditary transthyretin (ATTRv) amyloidosis are the most frequent types of systemic amyloidosis involving the neuromuscular system. Localized amyloidosis can occur in skeletal muscle, so-called isolated amyloid myopathy. Amyloid neuropathy typically involves small myelinated and unmyelinated sensory and autonomic nerve fibers early in the course of the disease, followed by large myelinated fiber sensory and motor deficits. The relentlessly progressive nature with motor, painful sensory and severe autonomic dysfunction, profound weight loss, and systemic features are distinct characteristics of amyloid neuropathy. Amyloid myopathy presentation differs between systemic amyloidosis and isolated amyloid myopathy. Long-standing symptoms, distal predominant myopathy, markedly elevated creatine kinase level, and lack of peripheral neuropathy or systemic features are highly suggestive of isolated amyloid myopathy. In ATTR and AL amyloidosis, early treatment correlates with favorable outcomes. Therefore, awareness of these disorders and active screening for amyloidosis in patients with neuropathy or myopathy are crucial in detecting these patients in the everyday practice of neuromuscular medicine. Herein, we review the clinical manifestations of neuromuscular amyloidosis and provide a diagnostic approach to this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • amyloidosis
  • autonomic neuropathy
  • myopathy
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • small fiber neuropathy
  • transthyretin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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