Management of the elderly patient with AL amyloidosis

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Systemic immunoglobulin light chain (AL) amyloidosis is an aging-associated protein misfolding and deposition disease. This condition is caused by a small and otherwise indolent plasma cell (or B cell) clone secreting an unstable circulating light chain, which misfolds and deposits as amyloid fibrils possibly leading to progressive dysfunction of affected organs. AL amyloidosis can occur in the typical setting of other, rarer forms of systemic amyloidosis and can mimic other more prevalent conditions of the elderly. Therefore, its diagnosis requires a high degree of clinical suspicion and reliable diagnostic tools for accurate amyloid typing, available at specialized referral centers. In AL amyloidosis, frailty is dictated by the type and severity of organ involvement, with heart involvement being the main determinant of morbidity and mortality. Still, given a similar disease stage, elderly patients with AL amyloidosis are often an even frailer group, due to significant comorbidities, associated disability and polypharmacotherapy, socioeconomic restrictions, and limited access to clinical trials. Recent improvements in the use of biomarkers for early diagnosis, risk stratification and response monitoring, the flourishing of novel, effective anti-plasma cell therapies developed against multiple myeloma and adapted to treat AL amyloidosis, and possibly the introduction of anti-amyloid therapies are rapidly changing the clinical management of this disease and are reflected by improved outcomes. Of note, hematologic and organ responses in elderly patients with AL amyloidosis do translate in better outcome, advocating the importance of treating these patients and striving for a rapid response to therapy also in this challenging clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • AL amyloidosis
  • Elderly
  • Frailty
  • Great old
  • Old
  • Systemic amyloidosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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