Information for Patients
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
Also called: AATD, Alpha-1, Inherited emphysema
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency) is an inherited condition that raises your risk for lung and liver disease. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein that protects the lungs. The liver makes it. If the AAT proteins aren't the right shape, they get stuck in the liver cells and can't reach the lungs.
Symptoms of AAT deficiency include
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
- Repeated lung infections
- Rapid heartbeat upon standing
- Vision problems
- Weight loss
Some people have no symptoms and do not develop complications.
Blood tests and genetic tests can tell if you have it. If your lungs are affected, you may also have lung tests. Treatments include medicines, pulmonary rehab, and extra oxygen, if needed. Severe cases may need a lung transplant. Not smoking can prevent or delay lung symptoms.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin test (Medical Encyclopedia)
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited disorder that may cause lung disease and liver disease. The signs and symptoms of the condition and the age at which they appear vary among individuals.People with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency usually develop the first signs and symptoms of lung disease between ages 20 and 50. The earliest symptoms are shortness of breath following mild activity, reduced ability to exercise, and wheezing. Other signs and symptoms can include unintentional weight loss, recurring respiratory infections, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat upon standing. Affected individuals often develop emphysema, which is a lung disease caused by damage to the small air sacs in the lungs (alveoli). Characteristic features of emphysema include difficulty breathing, a hacking cough, and a barrel-shaped chest. Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke accelerates the appearance of emphysema symptoms and damage to the lungs.About 10 percent of infants with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency develop liver disease, which often causes yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Approximately 15 percent of adults with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency develop liver damage (cirrhosis) due to the formation of scar tissue in the liver. Signs of cirrhosis include a swollen abdomen, swollen feet or legs, and jaundice. Individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are also at risk of developing a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma.In rare cases, people with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency develop a skin condition called panniculitis, which is characterized by hardened skin with painful lumps or patches. Panniculitis varies in severity and can occur at any age.