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Type I familial amyloid polyneuropathy and pontine haemorrhage

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A Portuguese female, aged 47 years, who had emigrated to Spain, was admitted to the hospital in 1991 for pontine haematoma. The patient, four siblings and her father were affected by a peripheral neuropathy, indicating autosomal dominant inheritance. The patient presented in the 2nd decade with sensory and motor neuropathy beginning in the lower extremities. Alternating constipation and diarrhoea, and urinary incontinence became uncontrollable. She had to be colostomised, and, eventually, confined to a wheelchair from the age of 43. Neurological examination showed bilateral facial involvement, and severe signs of sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy, and later right hemiplegia. There were abnormalities of atrial rhythm and left bundle branch block. Computerised axial tomography and magnetic resonance images demonstrated left-sided pontine haemorrhage. Nerve conduction studies revealed severe diminution of motor conduction velocity and absence or reduction of amplitude of sensory and motor action potentials. Inanition and a respiratory infection led to her death. Clinical diagnosis was type I familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP). Postmortem examination demonstrated amyloid deposits in peripheral nerves, including spinal roots and cranial nerves, leptomeninges, thyroid, breasts, heart, adrenal glands, kidneys, intestines, pancreas, and meningeal and some pontine vascular structures. Advanced pontine haematoma was verified. Cerebral haemorrhage usually occurs with cerebrovascular amyloidosis, but exceptionally with FAP. A minority of patients presenting with CNS haemorrhage showed arteriovenous malformation or embolism [Da Silva Horta and Dias Coelho (1960) Arch ‘de Vecchi’ Anal Patol Med Clin 31=163–172]. However, amyloid deposition in some small pontine vessels could have played a role in the pathogenesis of haemorrhage in the present case.

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Gutiérrez, J.A., Morales, C., Lara, M. et al. Type I familial amyloid polyneuropathy and pontine haemorrhage. Acta Neuropathol 86, 542–545 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00228595

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Key words

  • Familiar amyloid polyneuropathy
  • Central nervous system haemorrhage
  • Transthyretin