Deposition and Resolution of AA Amyloid

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Amyloidosis is a group of protein misfolding diseases characterized by extracellulardeposition of fibrillar protein aggregates. Today more than 25 different human amyloidogenicproteins have been identified, causing a variety of pathological conditions that includeAlzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and prion diseases. Amyloid A (AA) amyloidosis is acomplication to long standing inflammatory disorders and amyloid is formed from N-terminalfragments of the acute phase protein serum amyloid A. AA amyloidosis developsspontaneously in many mice strains in response to inflammatory stimulation. Amyloidformation is nucleation dependent and develops after a lag phase of months. If an extract fromamyloid loaded tissue is administered to the animal, the lag phase is shortened to days. Thetissue extract is referred to as amyloid enhancing factor, AEF.In paper I we demonstrate that the active component of AEF is the amyloid fibril itself. We doalso show that AEF retains its activity over a long period of time and is active in very low(femtomolar) doses. AEF activity can be transmitted in a serial manner, also by oraladministration. Thus, AEF shares several characteristics with the infectious prion protein. Wetherefore suggest that AEF induces protein conformational changes in a prion like manner andthat experimental AA amyloidosis is a transmissible disease.In paper II we showed that peripheral blood monocytes recovered from mice with AAamyloidosis carry AEF activity but plasma does not. AA amyloid was detected in occasionalmonocytes. It is possible that these fibrils serve as seeds or nuclei for conformational changesand subsequent amyloid deposition in the recipient animal.In paper III mechanisms of amyloid clearance in experimental AA amyloidosis were studied.During amyloid clearance antibodies directed against AA were detected. Immunoglobulinsdid also co-localize with AA deposits. Amyloid fibrils were detected intracellular inmacrophages. These findings suggest that immune mechanisms contribute to AA amyloidclearance in mice and that macrophages are key players in the process. Immunoglobulins mayserve as opsonins facilitating phagocytosis of amyloid.It is believed that the early stages of amyloidogenesis are common in all forms of amyloiddiseases and that the amyloid formation process is cytotoxic. There are few studies onbiological effects of AA deposition in post mitotic tissue such as the heart. In paper IV weinvestigate the effects of cardiac AA amyloid deposition. Our results indicate that cardiac AAdeposition is associated with increased autophagic activity.In conclusion this thesis provides new insights to the dynamics of the turnover of AA amyloidand the mechanisms involved. Our results clearly show that the innate capacity of amyloidclearance is efficient.

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