Systemic amyloidosis in cats as models to study the disease in humans


Published in Nature Communications, the study Cryo-EM structure of ex vivo fibrils associated with extreme AA amyloidosis prevalence in a cat shelter focuses on AA amyloidosis found in cats held in captivity, including those kept in zoos and shelters. AA amyloidosis is a systemic disease found in humans and animals, characterized by the pathological deposition located in the extracellular of insoluble protein material called amyloid.

The collaboration study from various research groups in veterinary medicine includes that of the Department of Animal Medicine, Production, and Health of the University of Padua. This is the first publication to classify the disease as epidemiologically relevant, which is considered rare in domesticated European cats.

There are many forms of amyloidosis for humans, some for those over 40, and those with and without a hereditary disposition. The disease differs based on relative proteins, its onset, organ involvement, and those with direct AA (inflammatory/reactive) amyloidosis.

Researchers compared parallels in the feline species to those in human amyloidosis that make the disease.  The study is particularly promising for using cats as a model in the future, including studies on renal failure.  The publication may therefore provide useful information to better characterize human amyloidosis. The organs of cats with the disease held a deposition of a substance, perfectly characterized in this study, which the immune system is unable to eliminate. This accumulation of this substance causes damage to the organs involved, particularly kidneys, just like in humans.