Background & aims: Homozygosity for the Pi∗Z variant of the gene that encodes the alpha-1 antitrypsin peptide (AAT), called the Pi∗ZZ genotype, causes a liver and lung disease called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Heterozygosity (the Pi∗MZ genotype) is a risk factor for cirrhosis in individuals with liver disease. Up to 4% of Europeans have the Pi∗MZ genotype; we compared features of adults with and without Pi∗MZ genotype among persons without preexisting liver disease.
Methods: We analyzed data from the European Alpha-1 Liver Cohort, from 419 adults with the Pi∗MZ genotype, 309 adults with the Pi∗ZZ genotype, and 284 individuals without the variant (noncarriers). All underwent a comprehensive evaluation; liver stiffness measurements (LSMs) were made by transient elastography. Liver biopsies were analyzed to define histologic and biochemical features associated with the Pi∗Z variant. Levels of serum transaminases were retrieved from 444,642 participants, available in the United Kingdom biobank.
Results: In the UK biobank database, levels of serum transaminases were increased in subjects with the Pi∗MZ genotype compared with noncarriers. In the Alpha-1 Liver Cohort, adults with Pi∗MZ had lower levels of gamma-glutamyl transferase in serum and lower LSMs than adults with the Pi∗ZZ variant, but these were higher than in noncarriers. Ten percent of subjects with the Pi∗MZ genotype vs 4% of noncarriers had LSMs of 7.1 kPa or more (adjusted odds ratio, 4.8; 95% confidence interval, 2.0-11.8). Obesity and diabetes were the most important factors associated with LSMs ≥7.1 kPa in subjects with the Pi∗MZ genotype. AAT inclusions were detected in liver biopsies of 63% of subjects with the Pi∗MZ genotype, vs 97% of subjects with the Pi∗ZZ genotype, and increased with liver fibrosis stages. Subjects with the Pi∗MZ genotype did not have increased hepatic levels of AAT, whereas levels of insoluble AAT varied among individuals.
Conclusions: Adults with the Pi∗MZ genotype have lower levels of serum transaminases, fewer AAT inclusions in liver, and lower liver stiffness than adults with the Pi∗ZZ genotype, but higher than adults without the Pi∗Z variant. These findings should help determine risk of subjects with the Pi∗MZ genotype and aid in counseling.
Keywords: ALT; FibroScan; GGT; SERPINA1.
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