Advances in managing COPD related to α1 -antitrypsin deficiency: An under-recognized genetic disorder

Allergy. 2018 Nov;73(11):2110-2121. doi: 10.1111/all.13558. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


α1 -Antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) predisposes individuals to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and liver disease. Despite being commonly described as rare, AATD is under-recognized, with less than 10% of cases identified. The following is a comprehensive review of AATD, primarily for physicians who treat COPD or asthma, covering the genetics, epidemiology, clinical presentation, screening and diagnosis, and treatments of AATD. For patients presenting with liver and/or lung disease, screening and diagnostic tests are the only methods to determine whether the disease is related to AATD. Screening guidelines have been established by organizations such as the World Health Organization, European Respiratory Society, and American Thoracic Society. High-risk groups, including individuals with COPD, nonresponsive asthma, bronchiectasis of unknown etiology, or unexplained liver disease, should be tested for AATD. Current treatment options include augmentation therapy with purified AAT for patients with deficient AAT levels and significant lung disease. Recent trial data suggest that lung tissue is preserved by augmentation therapy, and different dosing schedules are currently being investigated. Effective management of AATD and related diseases also includes aggressive avoidance of smoking and biomass burning, vaccinations, antibiotics, exercise, good diet, COPD medications, and serial assessment.

Keywords: COPD; asthma; augmentation therapy; emphysema; α1-antitrypsin; α1-antitrypsin deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Disease Management
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Research
  • Treatment Outcome
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / blood
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / genetics
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / blood
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / complications*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / genetics


  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin

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