Indexed on: 14 May '08Published on: 14 May '08Published in: PNAS
AA amyloidosis is one of the principal causes of morbidity and mortality in captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), which are in danger of extinction, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms. Given the transmissible characteristics of AA amyloidosis, transmission between captive cheetahs may be a possible mechanism involved in the high incidence of AA amyloidosis. In this study of animals with AA amyloidosis, we found that cheetah feces contained AA amyloid fibrils that were different from those of the liver with regard to molecular weight and shape and had greater transmissibility. The infectious activity of fecal AA amyloid fibrils was reduced or abolished by the protein denaturants 6 M guanidine.HCl and formic acid or by AA immunodepletion. Thus, we propose that feces are a vehicle of transmission that may accelerate AA amyloidosis in captive cheetah populations. These results provide a pathogenesis for AA amyloidosis and suggest possible measures for rescuing cheetahs from extinction.