Primary light chain amyloidosis (AL) is the most common systemic amyloidosis, resulting from a plasma cell dyscrasia, a hematological malignancy. It causes a restrictive cardiomyopathy (AL-CMP) in over 70% of individuals. AL-CMP is as lethal as stage 4 lung cancer and more lethal than any other form of restrictive heart disease; if untreated, the mortality rate is 50% within 18 months. Moreover, myocardial dysfunction, the hallmark of AL-CMP, significantly increases early treatment related mortality, predominantly cardiovascular death, and is a powerful predictor of poor long-term survival. Two potentially treatable mechanisms underlie myocardial dysfunction-mechanical effects of amyloid and toxic effects from circulating light chain/ amyloid interactions-and predispose to heart failure, arrhythmias, and sudden death in individuals with AL-CMP. Until now, efforts to determine the mechanisms of AL-CMP have been hampered by a lack of animal models and the limitations of noninvasive techniques to directly image myocardial amyloid. A recent breakthrough, 18F- florbetapir PET/CT, has provided for the first time specific and quantitative imaging of myocardial amyloid including toxic amyloid protofibrils. Furthermore, we propose to investigate three pre-clinically proven pathways of light chain toxicity in humans-myocardial oxidative metabolism, oxidative stress, and coronary microvascular function. Our central hypotheses are that myocardial 18F-florbetapir retention is a biomarker for aggressiveness of AL-CMP and that effective chemotherapy will, by reducing circulating light chains, decrease aggressiveness of AL-CMP and improve oxidative stress, myocardial oxidative metabolism, microvascular function and contractile function, prior to an improvement in myocardial amyloid content.
In Aim 1, we will quantify myocardial 18F-florbetapir retention as a marker of aggressive myocardial disease in individuals with AL-CMP and active plasma cell dyscrasia compared to control individuals with AL-CMP and long-term hematological remission.
In Aim 2, we propose, using advanced imaging, to assess the effects of light chain reduction due to chemotherapy on myocardial structure, function, and metabolism and define the time course of these changes. Serial ECV and strain imaging by CMR, serum F2-isoprostanes and peroxynitrite levels, myocardial oxidative metabolism (Kmono) and coronary flow reserve by 11C-acetate PET, and 18F-florbetapir imaging will not only intricately characterize the myocardial substrate in AL-CMP, but also identify changes in response to therapy. The proposed studies offer the potential to transform our current understanding of AL- CMP as a restrictive heart disease caused by passive amyloid-related architectural damage to that of a more complex disorder resulting from both passive and aggressive factors. The results of these studies may form the foundation for drug discovery programs to prevent and cure AL-CMP.

Public Health Relevance

Cardiac amyloidosis is a major cause of early treatment-related death and poor overall survival in individuals with systemic light chain amyloidosis. This project will develop a novel approach to visualize cardiac amyloid deposits using advanced imaging methods. The long-term goal of this work is to identify the mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction, in order to guide the development of novel life-saving treatments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Medical Imaging Study Section (MEDI)
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Sopko, George
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
Independent Hospitals
United States
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Bravo, Paco E; Fujikura, Kana; Kijewski, Marie Foley et al. (2018) Relative Apical Sparing of Myocardial Longitudinal Strain Is Explained by Regional Differences in Total Amyloid Mass Rather Than the Proportion of Amyloid Deposits. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging :
Bravo, Paco E; Dorbala, Sharmila (2017) Targeted Nuclear Imaging Probes for Cardiac Amyloidosis. Curr Cardiol Rep 19:59
Bravo, Paco E; Di Carli, Marcelo F; Dorbala, Sharmila (2017) Role of PET to evaluate coronary microvascular dysfunction in non-ischemic cardiomyopathies. Heart Fail Rev 22:455-464