Hereditary ATTR (ATTRm) amyloidosis (also called transthyretin-type familial amyloid polyneuropathy [ATTR-FAP]) is an autosomal-dominant, adult-onset, rare systemic disorder predominantly characterized by irreversible, progressive, and persistent peripheral nerve damage. TTR gene mutations (e.g. replacement of valine with methionine at position 30 [Val30Met (p.Val50Met)]) lead to destabilization and dissociation of TTR tetramers into variant TTR monomers, which form amyloid fibrils that deposit in peripheral nerves and various organs, giving rise to peripheral and autonomic neuropathy and several non-disease specific symptoms.
Phenotypic and genetic variability and non–disease-specific symptoms often delay diagnosis and lead to misdiagnosis. Red-flag symptom clusters simplify diagnosis globally. However, in Japan, types of TTR variants, age of onset, penetrance, and clinical symptoms of Val30Met are more varied than in other countries. Hence, development of a Japan-specific red-flag symptom cluster is warranted. Presence of progressive peripheral sensory-motor polyneuropathy and ≥1 red-flag sign/symptom (e.g. family history, autonomic dysfunction, cardiac involvement, carpal tunnel syndrome, gastrointestinal disturbances, unexplained weight loss, and immunotherapy resistance) suggests ATTR-FAP. Outside of Japan, pharmacotherapeutic options are first-line therapy. However, because of positive outcomes (better life expectancy and higher survival rates) with living donor transplant in Japan, liver transplantation remains first-line treatment, necessitating a Japan-specific treatment algorithm.
Herein, we present a consolidated review of the ATTR-FAP Val30Met landscape in Japan and summarize findings from a medical advisory board meeting held in Tokyo on 18th August 2016, at which a Japan-specific ATTR-FAP red-flag symptom cluster and treatment algorithm was developed. Beside liver transplantation, a TTR-stabilizing agent (e.g. tafamidis) is a treatment option. Early diagnosis and timely treatment using the Japan-specific red-flag symptom cluster and treatment algorithm might help guide clinicians regarding apt and judicious use of available treatment modalities.