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, 321 (1), 33-41

Alpha1-antitrypsin Deficiency: Biological Answers to Clinical Questions


Alpha1-antitrypsin Deficiency: Biological Answers to Clinical Questions

R J Coakley et al. Am J Med Sci.


Alpha1-antitrypsin (alpha1AT) deficiency is a common lethal hereditary disorder of white persons of European descent. The condition is characterized by reduced serum levels of alpha1AT, a 52-kDa glycoprotein synthesized chiefly in the liver and, to a lesser extent, by macrophages and neutrophils. Alpha1AT acts as an antiprotease and is the physiological inhibitor of neutrophil serine proteases such as neutrophil elastase cathepsin G and proteinase 3. The clinical manifestations of alpha1AT deficiency occur chiefly in the lung, with a high risk of emphysema occurring by the third or fourth decade of life. Cigarette smoking accelerates the development of emphysema in persons with alpha1AT deficiency. There is also an increased risk of liver disease in alpha1AT deficiency, which occurs mostly in childhood. In this review, we will define further the diagnosis of alpha1AT deficiency and its clinical manifestations and describe the therapeutic strategies that are currently being developed to treat the hepatic and pulmonary disease associated with this condition.

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