Increasing amount of amyloid are associated with the severity of clinical features in hereditary gelsolin (AGel) amyloidosis

<p><i>Background</i>: Patients with hereditary gelsolin (AGel) amyloidosis (HGA) present with hanging skin (cutis laxa) and bilateral cranial neuropathy, and require symptomatic plastic surgery. Our clinical observation of tissue fragility prompted us to design a prospective study.</p> <p><i>Methods</i>: Twenty-nine patients with HGA undergoing surgery were interviewed and clinically examined. The height and thickness of skin folds in standard anatomical localizations were measured. The presence and distribution of amyloid in skin samples were analyzed using Congo red staining and immunohistochemistry using antibodies against gelsolin amyloid (AGel) subunit.</p> <p><i>Results</i>: The measured skin folds stretched more in patients with HGA (e.g. skin over olecranon, <i>p</i> < 0.001). The skin folds were thinner in patients with HGA (e.g. forehead skin, <i>p</i> < 0.001). The skin and subcutaneous fat were abnormally fragile during surgery. The total amount of AGel amyloid, and its presence in the deep layers of the skin and subcutaneous fat correlated with the measurements of skin folds, age and extent of cranial neuropathy.</p> <p><i>Conclusions</i>: The AGel amyloid in the skin and subcutis, together with morphologic changes in the dermal stroma and skin adnexa contribute to the atrophied and fragile structure of HGA skin. This is the first study to demonstrate the correlation between AGel amyloid accumulation and clinical disease severity.</p>