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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Light chain (AL) amyloidosis: update on diagnosis and management

Michael Rosenzweig1 and Heather Landau2*

Author Affiliations

1 City of Hope National Cancer Center, Duarte, California, USA

2 Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center Department, New York, New York, USA

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Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2011, 4:47  doi:10.1186/1756-8722-4-47

Published: 18 November 2011

Abstract

Light chain (AL) amyloidosis is a plasma cell dyscrasia characterized by the pathologic production of fibrillar proteins comprised of monoclonal light chains which deposit in tissues and cause organ dysfunction. The diagnosis can be challenging, requiring a biopsy and often specialized testing to confirm the subtype of systemic disease. The goal of treatment is eradication of the monoclonal plasma cell population and suppression of the pathologic light chains which can result in organ improvement and extend patient survival. Standard treatment approaches include high dose melphalan (HDM) followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT) or oral melphalan with dexamethasone (MDex). The use of novel agents (thalidomide, lenalidomide and bortezomib) alone and in combination with steroids and alkylating agents has shown efficacy and continues to be explored. A risk adapted approach to SCT followed by novel agents as consolidation reduces treatment related mortality with promising outcomes. Immunotherapeutic approaches targeting pathologic plasma cells and amyloid precursor proteins or fibrils are being developed. Referral of patients to specialized centers focusing on AL amyloidosis and conducting clinical trials is essential to improving patient outcomes.