Detection of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency: a review

Respir Med. 2009 Mar;103(3):335-41. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2008.10.006. Epub 2008 Nov 17.


Screening studies reveal a much larger number of individuals expected to have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency than is clinically recognized, with estimates that only about 2-10% of such individuals have been diagnosed. In the context that recognition of alpha-1 antitrypsin may prompt specific interventions (e.g., smoking avoidance, testing of family members, genetic counseling, and consideration of augmentation therapy), diagnosis is important, inviting much attention for efforts to identify affected individuals. Strategies to identify affected individuals include both population-based screening and targeted detection, and available studies have employed both approaches, though large-scale population-based screening is challenging. As reviewed in this paper, targeted-detection studies have generally produced a higher rate of detecting disease, and tend to be more successful with easier sampling techniques. Strategies to enhance detection in targeted studies have included awareness campaigns, easy testing techniques (such as evaluation of dried blood spots and home, confidential testing), and inclusive criteria for testing which span the full spectrum of clinical manifestations of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Donors
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / epidemiology