Severe alpha 1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency (genotype PiZZ) is a well-known risk factor for COPD. A cohort of PiZZ and PiSZ individuals was identified by the Swedish national neonatal AAT screening program in 1972–1974 and followed up regularly since birth. Our aim was to study the lung function, respiratory symptoms and health status at the age of 38 years in comparison with a random sample of control subjects selected from the population registry.
The study group included 120 PiZZ, 46 PiSZ and 164 control subjects (PiMM), who answered a questionnaire on smoking habits and symptoms and the Saint George Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) on quality of life. A total of 89 PiZZ, 33 PiSZ and 92 PiMM subjects underwent spirometry.
Four percent of the PiZZ, 2% of the PiSZ and 12% of the control subjects were current smokers ( P=0.008), and 17% of the PiZZ, 9% of the PiSZ and 21% of the control subjects had stopped smoking. The PiZZ current smokers had a significantly higher (ie, poorer) median activity score according to the SGRQ than the PiZZ never-smokers ( P=0.032). The PiMM current smokers had significantly higher activity score ( P<0.001), symptom score ( P<0.001), and total score ( P=0.001) according to the SGRQ than the PiMM never-smokers. The PiZZ current smokers had a significantly lower postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV 1)% of predicted value ( P=0.019) and FEV 1/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio ( P=0.032) than the PiZZ never-smokers. The proportion of subjects with a FEV 1/FVC ratio of <0.70, indicating COPD, was significantly higher in the PiZZ current smokers than in the PiZZ never-smokers ( P=0.001). Among the PiSZ and PiMM subjects, the differences in lung function between the smoking subgroups were insignificant.