The deposits of fibrils found in amyloidosis of the A type are derived from only one of the three serum amyloid A (SAA) gene products, namely SAA2. In order to explore the mechanism of SAA isotype-specific amyloid protein AA deposition, the molecular kinetics of the serum amyloid proteins were examined in CBA mice during casein induction of amyloidosis. The presence of SAA mRNA in spleen was searched for; hepatic SAA1 and SAA2 mRNA levels, rates of specific protein synthesis and secretion by hepatocytes, and serum levels were measured during a 20-d period of amyloid induction. We observed the following: small amounts of amyloid substance appeared in the spleen by day 5 and increased steadily over the ensuing 15 d to occupy nearly 30% of splenic volume by day 20. No SAA mRNA was detected in spleen at any time during induction of amyloid formation. Total serum SAA levels peaked 1 d after we began casein treatment, and thereafter declined. This decline was accounted for entirely by a dramatic fall in SAA2, while SAA1 levels remained nearly constant throughout. The ratios of hepatic SAA2:SAA1 mRNA, as determined by in vitro translation, remained constant during the 20-d period, as did amounts of SAA1 and SAA2 synthesized and secreted by freshly isolated hepatocytes. These data indicate that the deposition of amyloid A protein derived from SAA2 is not due to local SAA production in spleen, nor excessive SAA2 production compared with SAA1, but involves the selective and accelerated removal of SAA2 from the circulating pool of both SAA1 and SAA2.

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