Baseline characteristics of enrollees in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Registry of alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency Registry Study Group

Chest. 1997 Feb;111(2):394-403. doi: 10.1378/chest.111.2.394.


Objective: alpha 1-Antitrypsin (alpha 1-AT) deficiency is a hereditary disorder characterized by a high risk for the development of emphysema at an early age. In 1988, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, initiated a registry of individuals with alpha 1-AT deficiency to help define the natural history and clinical course of this disorder. This article describes demographic and clinical characteristics of subjects enrolled in the Registry at baseline.

Design: Prospective longitudinal natural history study.

Setting: Thirty-seven clinical centers in the United States (36 centers) and Canada (one center).

Patients: There were 1,129 subjects 18 years of age or older with severe deficiency of alpha 1-AT, defined as having serum alpha 1-AT levels < or = 11 mumol/L confirmed by a Central Phenotyping Laboratory, or a ZZ or ZNull genotype identified by genomic DNA analysis.

Results: Most enrollees were symptomatic white subjects in their fourth to sixth decade, with a ZZ phenotype, a history of having smoked cigarettes, and pulmonary function tests demonstrating a pattern consistent with emphysema. Interestingly, only a small percentage were current smokers on enrollment, suggesting that this population is amenable to smoking cessation. A subgroup of individuals in the Registry with relatively normal lung function were younger, more likely to have never smoked and more likely to have come to medical attention owing to a family history of alpha 1-AT deficiency rather than symptomatic involvement.

Conclusions: These results emphasize the need for increased awareness and early detection of alpha 1-AT deficiency. In this endeavor, dissemination of the information contained in the Registry to health-care professionals and the general population, along with initiation of appropriate preventative measures before significant lung damage has occurred, could have considerable benefits for individuals with this condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Phenotype
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • United States
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency*


  • Bronchodilator Agents