Background Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is considered one of the most common genetic diseases and is characterised by the misfolding and polymerisation of the alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) protein within hepatocytes. The relevance of circulating polymers (CP) of AAT in the pathogenesis of lung and liver disease is not completely understood. Therefore, the main objective of our study was to determine whether there is an association between the levels of CP of AAT and the severity of lung and liver disease. Method This was a cross-sectional study in patients with different phenotypes of AATD and controls. To quantify CP, a sandwich ELISA was performed using the 2C1 monoclonal antibody against AAT polymers. Sociodemographic data, clinical characteristics, and liver and lung parameters were collected. Results A cohort of 70 patients was recruited: 32 Pi*ZZ (11 on augmentation therapy); 29 Z-heterozygous; 9 with other genotypes. CP were compared with a control group of 47 individuals (35 Pi*MM and 12 Pi*MS). ZZ patients had the highest concentrations of CP (p < 0.001) followed by Z heterozygous. The control group and patients with Pi*SS and Pi*SI had the lowest CP concentrations. Pi*ZZ also had higher levels of liver stiffness measurements (LSM) than the remaining AATD patients. Among patients with one or two Z alleles, two patients with lung and liver impairment showed the highest concentrations of CP (47.5 µg/mL), followed by those with only liver abnormality (n = 6, CP = 34 µg/mL), only lung (n = 18, CP = 26.5 µg/mL) and no abnormalities (n = 23, CP = 14.3 µg/mL). Differences were highly significant (p = 0.004). Conclusions Non-augmented Pi*ZZ and Z-patients with impaired lung function and increased liver stiffness presented higher levels of CP than other clinical phenotypes. Therefore, CP may help to identify patients more at risk of developing lung and liver disease and may provide some insight into the mechanisms of disease.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; Circulating polymers; Emphysema
Núñez A, Belmonte I, Miranda E, Barrecheguren M, Farago G, Loeb E, et al. Association between circulating alpha-1 antitrypsin polymers and lung and liver disease. Respir Res. 2021 Sep 15;22:244.
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