BACKGROUND: Few data are available from large population-based studies on survival and renal outcome of patients with renal involvement and different types of systemic amyloidosis. METHODS: Two hundred and ninety of over 373 patients affected from systemic amyloidosis with renal involvement diagnosed in Italy between January 1995 and December 2000 were followed from diagnosis to death or until the last available clinical control. Eighty-three patients were excluded from analysis either because the amyloid type remained undetermined or they were lost at follow-up. Clinical and laboratory information was collected according to the different types of amyloidosis using a specific form which included renal function with 24 h proteinuria at diagnosis and at the end of follow-up, the type and the date of onset of dialysis and the kind of treatment they underwent. RESULTS: The median time of follow-up was 24 months in primary (AL) amyloidosis (range: 1-88 months), 16 months in AL with associated multiple myeloma (MM + AL: range 1-76 months), 30 months in reactive (AA) amyloidosis (range: 1-99 months) and 52 months in patients with familial forms (AF: range 14-82 months). Patients with AL showed a significantly shorter survival than AA. Despite no significant differences of renal outcome or survival on dialysis being observed between the two groups, a lower renal survival with a higher number of patients who progressed to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) was observed in patients with AA. Overall survival was markedly improved in patients with AL who underwent a specific therapy (conventional chemotherapy or autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT)) even in the absence of a positive kidney response. Multivariate analysis showed cardiac involvement and specific therapy to significantly influence survival in AL whereas age, serum creatinine (sCr) and heart involvement significantly affected survival in AA. In both groups, sCr and heart involvement were the most relevant predictors for renal outcome, together with urinary protein excretion, in patients with AA. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show a worse survival in AL due to the higher prevalence of heart involvement in this group and emphasize that a specific therapy significantly prolongs survival and slows the progression of renal disease in patients with AL. We suggest that a late nephrological referral is likely the cause of the higher sCr found at presentation in patients with AA and probably accounts for the lower renal survival observed in the short term in these patients. At the time being, renal transplantation and ASCT are still rare therapeutic options for renal patients affected from systemic amyloidosis.
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