Sudomotor innervation in transthyretin amyloid neuropathy: Pathology and functional correlates

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ObjectiveAutonomic neuropathy is a major component of familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP) due to mutated transthyretin, with sudomotor failure as a common manifestation. This study aimed to investigate the pathology and clinical significance of sudomotor denervation.MethodsSkin biopsies were performed on the distal leg of FAP patients with a follow-up duration of 3.8 ± 1.6 years. Sudomotor innervation was stained with 2 markers: protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5), a general neuronal marker, and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a sudomotor nerve functional marker, followed by quantitation according to sweat gland innervation index (SGII) for PGP 9.5 (SGIIPGP 9.5) and VIP (SGIIVIP).ResultsThere were 28 patients (25 men) with Ala97Ser transthyretin and late onset (59.9 ± 6.0 years) disabling neuropathy. Autonomic symptoms were present in 22 patients (78.6%) at the time of skin biopsy. The SGIIPGP 9.5 and SGIIVIP of FAP patients were significantly lower than those of age- and gender-matched controls. The reduction of SGIIVIP was more severe than that of SGIIPGP 9.5 (p = 0.002). Patients with orthostatic hypotension or absent sympathetic skin response at palms were associated with lower SGIIPGP 9.5 (p = 0.019 and 0.002, respectively). SGIIPGP 9.5 was negatively correlated with the disability grade at the time of skin biopsy (p = 0.004), and was positively correlated with the interval from the time of skin biopsy to the time of wheelchair usage (p = 0.029).InterpretationThis study documented the pathological evidence of sudomotor denervation in FAP. SGIIPGP 9.5 was functionally correlated with autonomic symptoms, autonomic tests, ambulation status, and progression of disability. Ann Neurol 2015;78:272-283

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