Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic disorder which contributes to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, liver cirrhosis and panniculitis. The discovery of alpha1-antitrypsin and its function as an antiprotease led to the protease-antiprotease hypothesis, which goes some way to explaining the pathogenesis of emphysema. This article will review the clinical features of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, the genetic mutations known to cause it, and how they do so at a molecular level. Specific treatments for the disorder based on this knowledge will be reviewed, including alpha1-antitrypsin replacement, gene therapy and possible future therapies, such as those based on stem cells.
Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.