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Abstract

To analyze the peripheral nerve pathological abnormalities in familial amyloid polyneuropathy, a correlative pathological study was carried out on the spinal nerve roots, proximal sciatic nerves, sural nerves, and brachial plexuses from 3 patients with the disease in Japan. The spinal nerve roots appeared to be unaffected except for amyloid deposition on the epineurium. In sciatic nerves and brachial plexuses the nerve lesions had a multifocal distribution, showing prominent interstitial edema in the endoneurium frequently adjacent to deposits of amyloid; in these regions the nerve fibers were severely depleted. A teased-fiber study revealed that segmental demyelination was the predominant type of nerve fiber abnormality. However, these findings were not seen in the sural nerves; instead a diffuse fiber loss with axonal degeneration was observed. It is suggested that multifocal lesions in the proximal portions of the long extremity nerves could summate distally to produce a symmetrical polyneuropathy in the disease. In addition to a spaceoccupying effect of amyloid deposits in the endoneurium, severe endoneurial edema associated with amyloid deposition in blood vessels and the endoneurial interstitium may induce ischemia in nerve fibers, thus causing the progressive polyneuropathy in this disorder.