AL Amyloidosis

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AL amyloidosis -- also known as primary amyloidosis or light chain amyloidosis -- occurs when plasma cells in the bone marrow produce abnormal proteins. These proteins enter the bloodstream and form amyloid deposits, which can damage the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, soft tissue, nervous system, and more. Duke amyloidosis specialists are experts in diagnosing AL amyloidosis and providing individualized treatments that slow the progress of the disease and help manage related conditions.

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Diagnosing AL Amyloidosis

Diagnosing amyloidosis can be challenging because symptoms of the disease can mimic those of other conditions. Determining the right treatment starts with identifying the type of protein causing the disease and the organs affected. 


A tissue sample taken from fat on your abdomen, bone marrow, or an affected organ is tested for the presence of amyloid protein and the specific type of protein involved. 

Lab Work and Imaging

Blood work and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI (including cardiac MRI), CT scans, and PET scans may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and extent of the disease.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treating AL Amyloidosis

Your medical team may recommend one or more of the following treatments. 


Chemotherapy can halt or slow the progression of AL amyloidosis by impeding the growth of cells that produce abnormal amyloid protein. Chemotherapy is administered orally, by injection, or intravenously. Some forms of chemotherapy must be given in a clinic; others can be given at home. 

Stem Cell Transplant

Your team may recommend a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. High doses of chemotherapy kill amyloid-producing cells and shut down bone marrow production. Stem cells are then transplanted to help “rebuild” your bone marrow over several weeks. Your type of amyloidosis and your overall health will determine if a stem cell transplant is right for you.

Specialized Treatments

Because various organs and body systems may be involved in AL amyloidosis, your care may include treatments specific to your condition. 

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Why Choose Duke

Research on Promising New Treatments
While chemotherapy can halt the progression of AL amyloidosis, it cannot reverse the damage caused by the disease. Our researchers are studying new monoclonal antibodies that could remove amyloid deposits and improve the function of your heart, kidney, lungs, and other organ systems. As a Duke patient, you may have access to our ongoing clinical trials, which study new therapeutic approaches that are not widely available or accessible at most other hospitals.

A Team of Experts
Our team of amyloidosis experts -- including hematologist/oncologists, cardiologists, kidney specialists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, and others --meets regularly to share information on patient care, new therapies, and more. Receiving your care from a team of experienced specialists ensures you receive the best-possible outcome.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 06/01/2023 by