Hereditary and acquired angioedema

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2019 Nov 1;40(6):441-445. doi: 10.2500/aap.2019.40.4267.


Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is an autosomal dominant disorder defined by a deficiency of functional C1 esterase inhibitor (C1-INH). Acquired angioedema is due to either consumption (type 1) or inactivation (type 2) of CI-INH. Both HAE and acquired angioedema can be life-threatening. Of the three types of HAE, type 1 is most common, occurring in approximately 85% of patients and characterized by decreased production of C1-INH, which results in reduced functional activity to 5-40% of normal. Type 2 occurs in 15% of cases; C1-INH is detectable in normal or elevated quantities but is dysfunctional. Also, HAE with normal CI-INH (previously called type 3 HAE) is rare and characterized by normal complement studies. Specific genetic mutations have been linked to factor XII, angiopoietin-1, and plasminogen gene. Patients with unknown mutations are classified as unknown. The screening test for types 1 and 2 is complement component C4, which is low to absent at times of angioedema and during quiescent periods. A useful test to differentiate HAE from acquired angioedema is C1q protein, which is normal in HAE and low in acquired angioedema. The management of HAE has been transformed with the advent of disease-specific therapies. On-demand therapy options include plasma and recombinant C1-INH for intravenous infusion; ecallantide, an inhibitor of kallikrein; and icatibant, a bradykinin β₂ receptor antagonist, both administered subcutaneously. For long-term prophylaxis, intravenous or subcutaneous C1-INH enzyme replacement and lanadelumab, a monoclonal antibody against kallikrein that is administered subcutaneously, are effective agents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angioedema / diagnosis*
  • Angioedema / etiology
  • Angioedemas, Hereditary / diagnosis*
  • Angioedemas, Hereditary / etiology
  • Angioedemas, Hereditary / therapy
  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein / metabolism
  • Complement C4 / deficiency
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Mutation


  • Complement C1 Inhibitor Protein
  • Complement C4

Supplementary concepts

  • Acquired angioedema