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The amyloidoses are a diverse group of diseases characterized by the deposition of specific proteins with distinct affinity to the dye Congo red, collectively called amyloid. The amyloidogenic proteins have acquired an abnormal, highly ordered, beta-pleated sheet configuration with a propensity to self-aggregate. The amyloid may be distributed in different organs with a remarkable diversity. Two broad categories of amyloidoses are recognised: The systemic (consisting of the primary or light chain form, the secondary or reactive form and the familial or hereditary form) and the localised that target specific organs. A tropism of amyloid proteins to the neural tissue produces certain patterns of central nervous system diseases: cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a substrate of spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage; mature neuritic plaques found in Alzheimer disease and a subset of prion diseases; a topographically restricted accumulation of extracellular proteins giving rise to tumour-mimicking masses, the amyloidomas; and finally, spinal extradural amyloid collections that occasionally are found in the context of rheumatoid arthritis. In this review article we present original illustrative cases of amyloid diseases of the central nervous system that may be encountered in neurosurgical and neurological practice. Molecular aspects and clinical management problems are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Neurosci

Publication Date





159 - 167


Amyloid, Amyloidosis, Animals, Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy, Humans, Plaque, Amyloid