Background: Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) in vasculitis have either cANCA or pANCA patterns as defined by immunofluorescence. The target autoantigen of cANCA is usually proteinase 3 (PR3), whereas that of pANCA is usually myeloperoxidase (MPO). Alpha-1-antitrypsin (alpha 1AT) is the major physiological inhibitor of PR3, while MPO is an inhibitor of alpha 1AT.
Methods: To determine whether there was an association between ANCA positive vasculitis, ANCA pattern, and alpha 1AT deficiency alleles, we studied alpha 1AT phenotypes of 99 cANCA and 99 pANCA positive vasculitis patients by isoelectric focusing and immunoblotting, and compared them with 2310 controls from the same geographical area.
Results: C-ANCA patients showed an increased frequency of the Z allele (0.055 versus 0.018 in controls), conferring a relative risk of 3. They showed no increase in frequency of the S allele. P-ANCA patients showed an increased frequency of the S allele (0.091 versus 0.046 in controls) conferring a relative risk of 2. The frequency of the Z allele also appeared to be increased (0.030 versus 0.018 in controls), but this was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate an association between ANCA-positive vasculitis and deficiency phenotypes of alpha 1AT, and suggest a role for alpha 1AT in the development of systemic vasculitis.