BACKGROUND & AIMS: Hereditary systemic amyloidoses are autosomal dominant, late-onset disorders caused by mutations in the genes for a group of plasma proteins including transthyretin, lysozyme, fibrinogen Aalpha chain, gelsolin, apolipoprotein A-I, and apolipoprotein A-II. We investigated both phenotypic and genotypic aspects of apolipoprotein A-I amyloidosis unexpectedly disclosed by liver biopsy in 13 unrelated individuals with asymptomatic, persistent elevation of alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyltransferase levels. METHODS: Immunoelectron microscopy was used for in situ characterization of amyloid deposits on liver biopsy specimens. Mutation analysis was performed by sequencing of the apolipoprotein A-I gene in all patients. Wild-type/variant apolipoprotein A-I ratio in plasma high-density lipoproteins was assessed by a peptide mass fingerprinting approach after purification of total apolipoprotein A-I of 2 patients. RESULTS: Family history was informative in 5 cases. Renal failure developed in 9 cases. Hypogonadism due to testicular involvement was observed. Amyloid fibrils specifically stained with anti-apolipoprotein A-I antibody. A novel (Leu75Pro) heterozygous mutation in the apolipoprotein A-I gene was present in affected individuals but not in controls. Variant apolipoprotein A-I was about 10% of the total protein in high-density lipoproteins. CONCLUSIONS: The high number of individuals with apparently sporadic disease might reflect widespread occurrence of this mutation in the population and a milder phenotype of this variant compared with other apolipoprotein A-I amyloidogenic mutants. These findings suggest that specific staining for amyloid should be performed on liver biopsy of individuals with asymptomatic chronic elevation of alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyltransferase levels.
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