The management of systemic amyloidosis relies on the treatment of the underlying etiology and differs radically for different amyloid types. Therefore, given that at least 25 different proteins have been associated with amyloidosis, accurate identification of proteins deposited as amyloid fibrils is an important clinical problem. In this study, we describe a novel method that can characterize amyloid subtypes using laser microdissection (LMD) and mass spectrometry (MS) on routinely processed paraffin-embedded tissues. The study used 60 cases consisting of 16 transthyretin, 9 serum amyloid-associated protein, 20 immunoglobulin light chain lambda, 5 immunoglobulin light chain kappa, and 10 amyloid negative control samples. The biopsy specimens studied included heart, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, lung and decalcified bone marrow specimens. The amyloid type in all cases was previously characterized based on clinical findings, immunohistochemistry and, where indicated, by molecular testing for transthyretin mutations. Amyloid plaques were captured from an 10 micron paraffin section exhibiting positive Congo Red staining using LMD. Proteins were extracted, digested with trypsin and identified following MS/MS using the Mascot search algorithm analysis. MS correctly identified each of the 4 types of amyloidosis analyzed. Serum Amyloid P component and Apolipoprotein E were also identified as constituents of the amyloid deposition. The analysis was successful on all tissue types including decalcified bone marrow specimens and small biopsy specimens such as endomycardial biopsies and renal biopsies. The use of LMD from paraffin embedded biopsies and subsequent analysis by MS allows identification of the type of amyloid protein deposited with high specificity and sensitivity. This method promises to be a clinical test for accurate identification of amyloid proteins in routinely processed biopsy specimens and overcomes many of the specificity and sensitivity issues associated with current methods such as immunohistochemistry.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.