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      The Distribution of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Genotypes Between Patients with COPD/Emphysema, Asthma and Bronchiectasis

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          Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a rare hereditary condition characterized by low circulating levels of alpha-1antitrypsin (AAT). While the association between AATD and COPD/emphysema is undisputed, the association between AATD and asthma or bronchiectasis is still a matter of debate.

          Aims and Objectives

          Our study aimed to investigate the distribution of AAT genotypes between patients with COPD/emphysema, asthma and bronchiectasis. To back up the diagnostic labels, we described symptoms associated with the diagnosis.


          Between September 2003 and March 2020, 29,465 testing kits (AlphaKit®) were analyzed in the AAT laboratory, University of Marburg, Germany. The diagnosis of AATD has been made based on the measurements of AAT serum levels, followed by genotyping, phenotyping or whole gene sequencing depending on the availability and/or the need for more detailed interpretation of the results. The respiratory symptoms were recorded as well.


          Regarding the distribution of the wild type allele M and the most frequent mutations S (E264V) and Z (E342K), no significant differences could be found between COPD/emphysema [Pi*MM (58.24%); Pi*SZ (2.49%); Pi*ZZ (9.12%)] and bronchiectasis [Pi*MM (59.30%) Pi*SZ (2.81%); Pi*ZZ (7.02%)]. When COPD/emphysema and bronchiectasis were recorded in the same patient, the rate of Pi* ZZ (14.78%) mutations was even higher. Asthma patients exhibited significantly less deficient genotypes [Pi*MM (54.81%); Pi*SZ (2%); Pi*ZZ (2.77%)] than two other groups. Associated respiratory symptoms confirmed the diagnosis.


          COPD/emphysema and bronchiectasis, but not asthma patients, exhibit higher frequency of AATD genotypes. Our data suggest that AATD testing should be offered to patients with COPD/emphysema and bronchiectasis.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Immunology of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

           Peter Barnes (2008)
          Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are both obstructive airway diseases that involve chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract, but the type of inflammation is markedly different between these diseases, with different patterns of inflammatory cells and mediators being involved. As described in this Review, these inflammatory profiles are largely determined by the involvement of different immune cells, which orchestrate the recruitment and activation of inflammatory cells that drive the distinct patterns of structural changes in these diseases. However, it is now becoming clear that the distinction between these diseases becomes blurred in patients with severe asthma, in asthmatic subjects who smoke and during acute exacerbations. This has important implications for the development of new therapies.
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            Combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema: a distinct underrecognised entity.

            The syndrome resulting from combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema has not been comprehensively described. The current authors conducted a retrospective study of 61 patients with both emphysema of the upper zones and diffuse parenchymal lung disease with fibrosis of the lower zones of the lungs on chest computed tomography. Patients (all smokers) included 60 males and one female, with a mean age of 65 yrs. Dyspnoea on exertion was present in all patients. Basal crackles were found in 87% and finger clubbing in 43%. Pulmonary function tests were as follows (mean+/-sd): total lung capacity 88%+/-17, forced vital capacity (FVC) 88%+/-18, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 80%+/-21 (% predicted), FEV1/FVC 69%+/-13, carbon monoxide diffusion capacity of the lung 37%+/-16 (% predicted), carbon monoxide transfer coefficient 46%+/-19. Pulmonary hypertension was present in 47% of patients at diagnosis, and 55% during follow-up. Patients were followed for a mean of 2.1+/-2.8 yrs from diagnosis. Survival was 87.5% at 2 yrs and 54.6% at 5 yrs, with a median of 6.1 yrs. The presence of pulmonary hypertension at diagnosis was a critical determinant of prognosis. The authors hereby individualise the computer tomography-defined syndrome of combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema characterised by subnormal spirometry, severe impairment of gas exchange, high prevalence of pulmonary hypertension, and poor survival.
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              The discovery of α1-antitrypsin and its role in health and disease.

              α1-Antitrypsin (AAT) is the archetype member of the serine protease inhibitor (SERPIN) supergene family. The AAT deficiency is most often associated with the Z mutation, which results in abnormal Z AAT folding in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes during biogenesis. This causes intra-cellular retention of the AAT protein rather than efficient secretion with consequent deficiency of circulating AAT. The reduced serum levels of AAT contribute to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the accumulation of abnormally folded AAT protein increases risk for liver diseases. In this review we show that with the discovery of AAT deficiency in the early 60s as a genetically determined predisposition to the development of early-onset emphysema, intensive investigations of enzymatic mechanisms that produce lung destruction in COPD were pursued. To date, the role of AAT in other than lung and liver diseases has not been extensively examined. Current findings provide new evidence that, in addition to protease inhibition, AAT expresses anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antimicrobial properties, and highlight the importance of this protein in health and diseases. In this review co-occurrence of several diseases with AAT deficiency is discussed. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                06 November 2020
                : 15
                : 2827-2836
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University Medical Center Giessen and Marburg, Member of the German Center for Lung Research , Marburg, Germany
                [2 ]Clinic for Pneumology, German Center for Lung Research (DZL), Medical University Hannover , Hannover, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Internal Medicine V, Pulmonology, Allergology, Respiratory and Intensive Care Medicine, Saarland Hospital , Homburg/Saar, Germany
                [4 ]Institute for Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research, Schoen Klinik Berchtesgadener Land, Teaching Hospital of Philipps-University of Marburg , Marburg, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Martina Veith Department of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University Medical Center Giessen and Marburg, Member of the German Center for Lung Research , Marburg, GermanyTel +4964215864723Fax +496421586370 Email
                © 2020 Veith et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 4, References: 36, Pages: 10
                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                serpina1, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, bronchiectasis, asthma, diagnosis


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