Severe α1‐antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an autosomal recessive genetic condition associated with an increased but variable risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to assess the impact of chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and sex on the development of COPD in individuals with severe AAT deficiency.
The AAT Genetic Modifier Study is a multicentre family‐based cohort study designed to study the genetic and epidemiological determinants of COPD in AAT deficiency. 378 individuals (age range 33–80 years), confirmed to be homozygous for the SERPINA1 Z mutation, were included in the analyses. The primary outcomes of interest were a quantitative outcome, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) percentage predicted, and a qualitative outcome, severe airflow obstruction (FEV1 <50% predicted).
In multivariate analysis of the overall cohort, cigarette smoking, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia were risk factors for reduced FEV1 percentage predicted and severe airflow obstruction (p<0.01). Index cases had lower FEV1 values, higher smoking histories and more reports of adult asthma, pneumonia and asthma before age 16 than non‐index cases (p<0.01). Men had lower pre‐ and post‐bronchodilator FEV1 percentage predicted than women (p<0.0001); the lowest FEV1 values were observed in men reporting a history of childhood asthma (26.9%). This trend for more severe obstruction in men remained when index and non‐index groups were examined separately, with men representing the majority of non‐index individuals with airflow obstruction (71%). Chronic bronchitis (OR 3.8, CI 1.8 to 12.0) and a physician's report of asthma (OR 4.2, CI 1.4 to 13.1) were predictors of severe airflow obstruction in multivariate analysis of non‐index men but not women.
In individuals with severe AAT deficiency, sex, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia are risk factors for severe COPD, in addition to cigarette smoking. These results suggest that, in subjects severely deficient in AAT, men, individuals with symptoms of chronic bronchitis and/or a past diagnosis of asthma or pneumonia may benefit from closer monitoring and potentially earlier treatment.
Airflow limitation in COPD patients is not fully reversible. However, there may be large variability in bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) among COPD patients, and familial aggregation of BDR suggests a genetic component. Therefore we investigated the association between six candidate genes and BDR in subjects with severe COPD. A total of 389 subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) were analyzed. Bronchodilator responsiveness to albuterol was expressed in three ways: absolute change in FEV1, change in FEV1 as a percent of baseline FEV1, and change in FEV1 as a percent of predicted FEV1. Genotyping was completed for 122 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six candidate genes (EPHX1, SFTPB, TGFB1, SERPINE2, GSTP1, ADRB2). Associations between BDR phenotypes and SNP genotypes were tested using linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, and height. Genes associated with BDR phenotypes in the NETT subjects were assessed for replication in 127 pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD (EOCOPD) Study. Three SNPs in EPHX1 (p = 0.009 – 0.04), three SNPs in SERPINE2 (p = 0.004 – 0.05) and two SNPs in ADRB2 (0.04 – 0.05) were significantly associated with BDR phenotypes in NETT subjects. BDR. One SNP in EPHX1 (rs1009668, p = 0.04) was significantly replicated in EOCOPD subjects. SNPs in SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1 genes were not associated with BDR. In conclusion, a polymorphism of EPHX1 was associated with bronchodilator responsiveness phenotypes in subjects with severe COPD.
bronchodilator responsiveness; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetics; association analysis
Individuals with severe Z α1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency have a considerably increased risk of developing chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). It has been hypothesized that compensatory increases in levels of other protease inhibitors mitigate the effects of this AAT deficiency. We analysed plasma levels of AAT, α1-antichymotrypsin (ACT) and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) in healthy (asymptomatic) and COPD subjects with and without AAT deficiency.
Studied groups included: 71 asymptomatic AAT-deficient subjects (ZZ, n = 48 and SZ, n = 23, age 31 ± 0.5) identified during Swedish neonatal screening for AAT deficiency between 1972 and 1974; age-matched controls (MM, n = 57, age 30.7 ± 0.6); older asymptomatic ZZ (n = 10); healthy MM (n = 20, age 53 ± 9.6); and COPD patients (ZZ, n = 10, age 47.4 ± 11 and MM, n = 10, age 59.4 ± 6.7). Plasma levels of SLPI, AAT and ACT were analysed using ELISA and immunoelectrophoresis.
No significant difference was found in plasma ACT and SLPI levels between the healthy MM and the ZZ or SZ subjects in the studied groups. Independent of the genetic variant, subjects with COPD (n = 19) had elevated plasma levels of SLPI and ACT relative to controls (n = 153) (49.5 ± 7.2 vs 40.7 ± 9.1 ng/ml, p < 0.001 and 0.52 ± 0.19 vs 0.40 ± 0.1 mg/ml, p < 0.05, respectively).
Our findings show that plasma levels of ACT and SLPI are not elevated in subjects with genetic AAT deficiency compared MM controls and do not appear to compensate for the deficiency of plasma AAT.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is an inherited genetic disorder currently diagnosed in approximately 5,000 people in the United States. Although some individuals with AAT deficiency are asymptomatic, the condition often leads to deterioration of lung function in adults and is associated with emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory diseases. In children, AAT deficiency can result in severe liver disease, including fatal cirrhosis in newborn infants. Although much is known about the clinical pathology of AAT deficiency, researchers are just beginning to characterize environmental, occupational, and genetic modifiers affecting the onset and progression of diseases related to AAT deficiency. On 19 August 2002, a group of basic scientists, clinicians, environmental health researchers, and public interest groups gathered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to discuss ongoing research on these topics. The goals of this workshop were to a) assess the present state of knowledge regarding environmental and occupational risk factors contributing to AAT deficiency morbidity and mortality, b) define future research needs in this area, and c) explore collaborative opportunities to advance understanding of risk factors affecting the progression of AAT deficiency-related disease. Participants agreed that new research initiatives in these areas represent an opportunity to benefit both basic science, through enhanced understanding of gene-environment interaction, and the AAT deficiency patient community, through innovative new approaches to disease management and treatment.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by incompletely reversible airflow obstruction associated with inflammation in which monocytes/macrophages are the predominant inflammatory cells. The only known genetic factor related to COPD is inherited PiZZ deficiency of α1-antitrypsin (AAT), an inhibitor of serine proteases.
We investigated the basal and LPS-stimulated release of pro-inflammatory molecules from blood monocytes isolated from age and gender matched healthy (n = 30) and COPD (n = 20) individuals with and without AAT deficiency.
After 18 h of cell culture the basal release of MMP-9 was 2.5-fold, p < 0.02 greater, whereas IL-8 was 1.8-fold (p < 0.01) lower from COPD patient monocytes than from controls. LPS-stimulated release of IL-6 and MCP-1 was greater from COPD patient's monocytes relative to controls, while activation of control cells resulted in enhanced secretion of ICAM-1 and MMP-9 compared to COPD patients. Independent of disease status, monocytes from PiZZ AAT carriers released less TNFα (by 2.3-fold, p < 0.03).
The basal and LPS-stimulated secretion of specific pro-inflammatory molecules from circulating monocytes differs between healthy and COPD subjects. These findings may be valuable for further studies on the mechanisms involved in recruitment and activation of inflammatory cells in COPD.
The development of COPD in subjects with alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is likely to be influenced by modifier genes. Genome-wide association studies and integrative genomics approaches in COPD have demonstrated significant associations with SNPs in the chromosome 15q region that includes CHRNA3 (cholinergic nicotine receptor alpha3) and IREB2 (iron regulatory binding protein 2).
We investigated whether SNPs in the chromosome 15q region would be modifiers for lung function and COPD in AAT deficiency.
The current analysis included 378 PIZZ subjects in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study and a replication cohort of 458 subjects from the UK AAT Deficiency National Registry. Nine SNPs in LOC123688, CHRNA3 and IREB2 were selected for genotyping. FEV1 percent of predicted and FEV1/FVC ratio were analyzed as quantitative phenotypes. Family-based association analysis was performed in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study. In the replication set, general linear models were used for quantitative phenotypes and logistic regression models were used for the presence/absence of emphysema or COPD.
Three SNPs (rs2568494 in IREB2, rs8034191 in LOC123688, and rs1051730 in CHRNA3) were associated with pre-bronchodilator FEV1 percent of predicted in the AAT Genetic Modifiers Study. Two SNPs (rs2568494 and rs1051730) were associated with the post-bronchodilator FEV1 percent of predicted and pre-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio; SNP-by-gender interactions were observed. In the UK National Registry dataset, rs2568494 was significantly associated with emphysema in the male subgroup; significant SNP-by-smoking interactions were observed.
IREB2 and CHRNA3 are potential genetic modifiers of COPD phenotypes in individuals with severe AAT deficiency and may be sex-specific in their impact.
CHRNA3; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Genetic association analysis; Genetic modifiers; IREB2
Hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and pulmonary arterial hypertension are known complications of advanced COPD. We sought to identify genetic polymorphisms associated with these traits in a population of patients with severe COPD from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT).
In 389 participants from the NETT Genetics Ancillary Study, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in five candidate genes previously associated with COPD susceptibility (EPHX1, SERPINE2, SFTPB, TGFB1, and GSTP1). Linear regression models were used to test for associations among these SNPs and three quantitative COPD-related traits (Pao2, Paco2, and pulmonary artery systolic pressure). Genes associated with hypoxemia were tested for replication in probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
In the NETT Genetics Ancillary Study population, SNPs in microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1) [p = 0.01 to 0.04] and serpin peptidase inhibitor, clade E, member 2 (SERPINE2) [p = 0.04 to 0.008] were associated with hypoxemia. One SNP within surfactant protein B (SFTPB) was associated with pulmonary artery systolic pressure (p = 0.01). In probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, SNPs in EPHX1 and in SERPINE2 were associated with the requirement for supplemental oxygen.
In participants with severe COPD, SNPs in EPHX1 and SERPINE2 were associated with hypoxemia in two separate study populations, and SNPs from SFTPB were associated with pulmonary artery pressure in the NETT participants.
case-control studies; COPD; genetics; phenotype; single-nucleotide polymorphism
COPD exacerbations reduce quality of life and increase mortality. Genetic variation may explain the substantial variability seen in exacerbation frequency among COPD subjects with similar lung function. We analyzed whether polymorphisms in five candidate genes previously associated with COPD susceptibility also demonstrate association with COPD exacerbations.
Eighty-eight single nucleotide polymorphisms in microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFB1), SERPINE2, glutathione S-transferase pi (GSTP1), and surfactant protein B (SFTPB) were genotyped in 389 non-Hispanic white participants in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial. Exacerbations were defined as COPD-related emergency room visits or hospitalizations using Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims data.
Measurements and Main Results
216 subjects (56%) experienced one or more exacerbations during the study period. An SFTPB promoter polymorphism, rs3024791, was associated with COPD exacerbations (p=0.008). Logistic regression models confirmed the association with rs3024791 (p = 0.007). Poisson regression models demonstrated association of multiple SFTPB SNPs with exacerbation rates: rs2118177 (p = 0.006), rs2304566 (p = 0.002), rs1130866 (p = 0.04), and rs3024791 (p = 0.002). Polymorphisms in EPHX1, GSTP1, TGFB1, and SERPINE2 did not demonstrate association with COPD exacerbations.
Variants in SFTPB are associated with COPD susceptibility and COPD exacerbation frequency.
association analysis; COPD; exacerbations; genetics; surfactant protein B; single nucleotide polymorphisms
Although a hereditary contribution to emphysema has been long suspected, severe α1-antitrypsin deficiency remains the only conclusively proven genetic risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recently, genome-wide linkage analysis has led to the identification of two promising candidate genes for COPD: TGFB1 and SERPINE2. Like multiple other COPD candidate gene associations, even these positionally identified genes have not been universally replicated across all studies. Differences in phenotype definition may contribute to nonreplication in genetic studies of heterogeneous disorders such as COPD. The use of precisely measured phenotypes, including emphysema quantification on high-resolution chest computed tomography scans, has aided in the discovery of additional genes for clinically relevant COPD-related traits. The use of computed tomography scans to assess emphysema and airway disease as well as newer genetic technologies, including gene expression microarrays and genome-wide association studies, has great potential to detect novel genes affecting COPD susceptibility, severity, and response to treatment.
α1-antitrypsin deficiency; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetic linkage; single-nucleotide polymorphism
Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a genetic condition that increases the risk of developing lung and liver disease, as well as other associated conditions. Most treatment of affected individuals is not specifically directed at AAT deficiency but focuses on the resultant disease state. The only currently available specific therapeutic agent—namely, intravenous augmentation with plasma derived AAT protein—is marketed in a limited number of countries. Treatments aimed at correcting the underlying genetic abnormality, supplementing or modifying the gene product, and halting or reversing organ injury are now beginning to emerge. These innovative approaches may prove effective at modifying or eliminating diseases association with AAT deficiency.
Rationale: Computed tomography (CT) scanning of the lung may reduce phenotypic heterogeneity in defining subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and allow identification of genetic determinants of emphysema severity and distribution.
Objectives: We sought to identify genes associated with CT scan distribution of emphysema in individuals without α1-antitrypsin deficiency but with severe COPD.
Methods: We evaluated baseline CT densitometry phenotypes in 282 individuals with emphysema enrolled in the Genetics Ancillary Study of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, and used regression models to identify genetic variants associated with emphysema distribution.
Measurements and Main Results: Emphysema distribution was assessed by two methods—assessment by radiologists and by computerized density mask quantitation, using a threshold of −950 Hounsfield units. A total of 77 polymorphisms in 20 candidate genes were analyzed for association with distribution of emphysema. GSTP1, EPHX1, and MMP1 polymorphisms were associated with the densitometric, apical-predominant distribution of emphysema (p value range = 0.001–0.050). When an apical-predominant phenotype was defined by the radiologist scoring method, GSTP1 and EPHX1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms were found to be significantly associated. In a case–control analysis of COPD susceptibility limited to cases with densitometric upper-lobe–predominant cases, the EPHX1 His139Arg single-nucleotide polymorphism was associated with COPD (p = 0.005).
Conclusions: Apical and basal emphysematous destruction appears to be influenced by different genes. Polymorphisms in the xenobiotic enzymes, GSTP1 and EPHX1, are associated with apical-predominant emphysema. Altered detoxification of cigarette smoke metabolites may contribute to emphysema distribution, and these findings may lead to further insight into genetic determinants of emphysema.
COPD; genetics; association analysis; computed tomography; emphysema
α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency results from mutations of the protease inhibitor (PI). The AAT gene is mapped on chromosome 14 and has been associated with chronic liver disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
To determine the frequency of AAT mutations on S and Z carrier alleles in healthy Saudi individuals from Qassim Province in Saudi Arabia.
Patients and Methods:
A total of 158 healthy, unrelated participants from Qassim Province were recruited. They were genotyped for the two AAT-deficiency alleles, PI*S and PI*Z, using polymerase chain reaction, with primers designed throughout to mediate site-directed mutagenesis.
Of the 158 subjects, 11.39% were carriers for the S mutation (i.e., had the MS genotype), whereas 2.53% were carriers for the Z mutation (i.e., had the MZ genotype). The SZ genotype was present in 3.8% of subjects, while the homozygous genotype SS was present in 1.9% of subjects. No subjects showed the ZZ mutant genotype. Accordingly, frequency of the mutant S and Z alleles of AAT gene was 9.49% and 3.19%, respectively.
The results obtained showed a high prevalence of the AAT deficiency allele in the Saudi population. This probably warrants adoption of a screening program for at-risk individuals, so that they might initiate adequate prophylactic measures.
α-1 antitrypsin; Saudi Arabia; S allele; Z allele
Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a genetic disorder that manifests as pulmonary emphysema, liver cirrhosis and, rarely, as the skin disease panniculitis, and is characterized by low serum levels of AAT, the main protease inhibitor (PI) in human serum. The prevalence in Western Europe and in the USA is estimated at approximately 1 in 2,500 and 1 : 5,000 newborns, and is highly dependent on the Scandinavian descent within the population. The most common deficiency alleles in North Europe are PI Z and PI S, and the majority of individuals with severe AATD are PI type ZZ. The clinical manifestations may widely vary between patients, ranging from asymptomatic in some to fatal liver or lung disease in others. Type ZZ and SZ AATD are risk factors for the development of respiratory symptoms (dyspnoea, coughing), early onset emphysema, and airflow obstruction early in adult life. Environmental factors such as cigarette smoking, and dust exposure are additional risk factors and have been linked to an accelerated progression of this condition. Type ZZ AATD may also lead to the development of acute or chronic liver disease in childhood or adulthood: prolonged jaundice after birth with conjugated hyperbilirubinemia and abnormal liver enzymes are characteristic clinical signs. Cirrhotic liver failure may occur around age 50. In very rare cases, necrotizing panniculitis and secondary vasculitis may occur. AATD is caused by mutations in the SERPINA1 gene encoding AAT, and is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. The diagnosis can be established by detection of low serum levels of AAT and isoelectric focusing. Differential diagnoses should exclude bleeding disorders or jaundice, viral infection, hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease and autoimmune hepatitis. For treatment of lung disease, intravenous alpha-1-antitrypsin augmentation therapy, annual flu vaccination and a pneumococcal vaccine every 5 years are recommended. Relief of breathlessness may be obtained with long-acting bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids. The end-stage liver and lung disease can be treated by organ transplantation. In AATD patients with cirrhosis, prognosis is generally grave.
α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can exhibit two pathologic states: a lung disease that is primarily due to the loss of AAT's antiprotease function, and a liver disease resulting from a toxic gain-of-function of the PiZ-AAT (Z-AAT) mutant protein. We have developed several recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors that incorporate microRNA (miRNA) sequences targeting the AAT gene while also driving the expression of miRNA-resistant wild-type AAT-PiM (M-AAT) gene, thus achieving concomitant Z-AAT knockdown in the liver and increased expression of M-AAT. Transgenic mice expressing the human PiZ allele treated with dual-function rAAV9 vectors showed that serum PiZ was stably and persistently reduced by an average of 80%. Treated animals showed knockdown of Z-AAT in liver and serum with concomitant increased serum M-AAT as determined by allele-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). In addition, decreased globular accumulation of misfolded Z-AAT in hepatocytes and a reduction in inflammatory infiltrates in the liver was observed. Results from microarray studies demonstrate that endogenous miRNAs were minimally affected by this treatment. These data suggests that miRNA mediated knockdown does not saturate the miRNA pathway as has been seen with viral vector expression of short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs). This safe dual-therapy approach can be applied to other disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington disease, cerebral ataxia, and optic atrophies.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (A1AT or AAT) is a serine protease inhibitor (PI) which, when present at low levels, can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and liver disease in both children and adults. Several mutations within the SERPINA1 gene have been found to cause this deficiency. The most common variants are PI*Z and PI*S, each caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). We describe a real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the rapid genotyping of these polymorphisms. DNA was extracted from fourteen EDTA-anticoagulated whole blood samples using the Qiagen EZ1 blood extraction kit. SNP genotyping was performed using primer/probe sets purchased from Applied Biosystems. These were evaluated for performance and assay conditions on the Applied Biosystems 7500 FAST System. The genotypes of these samples were compared with their phenotype results from isoelectric focusing assays, which were performed by an independent reference laboratory. In addition, twenty samples that were previously genotyped at another laboratory were obtained for accuracy studies. Thirty-four samples were tested; five genotypes were represented and the assay was able to discriminate these successfully. Only one genotype could not be correlated with its phenotype result, as the phenotype was reported as an “unidentified allele”. All other genotyping results were concordant with previously determined genotypes and phenotypes. We describe a rapid real time PCR assay that is suitable for clinical use in genotyping AAT alleles and which can be used as the initial step in A1AT testing algorithms.
Real-time PCR; alpha-1 antitrypsin; molecular diagnostics; serine protease inhibitor; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); genotyping
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is influenced by environmental and genetic factors. An important fraction of COPD cases harbor a major genetic determinant, inherited ZZ (Glu342Lys) α1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). A study was undertaken to investigate gene expression patterns in end-stage COPD lungs from patients with and without AATD.
Explanted lungs of end-stage ZZ AATD-related (treated and non-treated with AAT augmentation therapy) and “normal” MM COPD, and liver biopsies from patients suffering from liver cirrhosis with and without ZZ AATD were used for gene expression analysis by Affymetrix microarrays or RT-PCR.
A total of 162 genes were found to be differentially expressed (p-value ≤ 0.05 and |FC| ≥ 2) between MM and ZZ COPD patients. Of those, 134 gene sets were up-regulated and 28 were down-regulated in ZZ relative to MM lung tissue. A subgroup of genes, zinc finger protein 165, snail homolog 1 (Drosophila) (SNAI1), and Krüppel-like transcription factors (KLFs) 4 (gut), 9 and 10, perfectly segregated ZZ and MM COPD patients. The higher expression of KLF 9 and KLF10 has been verified in the replication cohort with AATD-related end-stage lung emphysema and liver cirrhosis. Furthermore, higher expression of KLF9, SNAI1 and DEFA1 was found in ZZ COPD lungs without augmentation therapy relative to MM COPD or ZZ COPD with augmentation therapy.
These results reveal the involvement of transcriptional regulators of the zinc-finger family in COPD pathogenesis and provide deeper insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms of COPD with and without AATD.
Alpha 1-antitrypsin; COPD; Gene expression, Krüppel-like zinc finger proteins, Affymetrix gene chips
Alpha 1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a genetic disorder that primarily affects the lungs and liver. While AAT deficiency is one of the most common genetic disorders in the Caucasian population, it is extremely rare in Asians. Here, we report the case of a 36-year-old Korean woman with AAT deficiency who visited the emergency department of our hospital for the treatment of progressive dyspnea that had begun 10 years ago. She had never smoked. Chest computed tomography revealed panlobular emphysema in both lungs, which suggested AAT deficiency. The serum AAT level was 33 mg/dL (reference interval: 90-200 mg/dL). Four exons of the SERPINA1 gene, which is responsible for AAT deficiency, and their flanking regions were analyzed by PCR-direct sequencing. The patient was found to have 1 missense mutation (c.230C>T, p.Ser77Phe; Siiyama) and 1 frameshift mutation (c.1158dupC, p.Glu387ArgfsX14; QOclayton). This is the first Korean case of AAT deficiency confirmed by genetic analysis and the second case of a compound heterozygote of Siiyama and QOclayton, the first case of which was reported from Japan.
Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency; Compound heterozygote; Korean
Deficiency of Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) can be a genetic condition that increases the risk of developing liver, lung and possibly gastrointestinal disease. Since many autistic children also have gastrointestinal disorders, this study was designed to measure serum concentration of AAT and establish AAT genotypes in autistic children, age and gender matched non-autistic siblings, parents and controls.
Subjects and Methods
We used an indirect ELISA with monoclonal IgG to AAT to measure AAT serum concentrations in 71 members from 16 families of individuals with autism and 18 controls (no family history of autism). We used a duplex polymerase chain reaction to detect M, S and Z alleles for alpha-1 antitrypsin expression in 52 members of 12 of the above families.
A significantly high number of autistic family members had lower than normal serum levels of AAT when compared to controls. Autistic children with regressive onset had significantly lower levels of AAT compared to controls, and a significant number of autistic children with low serum AAT also had hyperbilirubinemia, gastrointestinal disease and respiratory problems. We also found that a significantly high number of these individuals had the PiMZ genotype and correspondingly low levels of serum alpha-1 antitrypsin.
Knowing that low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin may be inherited, and that low levels of AAT may be associated with GI disease in autistic children, genotyping autistic children may help identify individuals susceptible to developing digestive problems.
alpha-1 antitrypsin; autism; gastrointestinal disease
Severe alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a strong risk factor for COPD. But the impact of gene variants resulting in mild or intermediate AAT deficiency on the longitudinal course of respiratory health remains controversial. There is indication from experimental studies that pro-inflammatory agents like cigarette smoke can interact with these variants and thus increase the risk of adverse respiratory health effects. Therefore, we tested the effect of the presence of a protease inhibitor (Pi) S or Z allele (PiMS and PiMZ) on the change in lung function in different inflammation-exposed subgroups of a large, population-based cohort study.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The SAPALDIA population includes over 4600 subjects from whom SERPINA1 genotypes for S and Z alleles, spirometry and respiratory symptoms at baseline and after 11 years follow-up, as well as proxies for inflammatory conditions, such as detailed smoking history, obesity and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), were available. All analyses were performed by applying multivariate regression models. There was no overall unfavourable effect of PiMS or PiMZ genotype on lung function change. We found indication that PiZ heterozygosity interacted with inflammatory stimuli leading to an accelerated decline in measures in use as indices for assessing mild airway obstruction. Obese individuals with genotype PiMM had an average annual decline in the forced mid expiratory flow (ΔFEF25-75%) of 58.4 ml whereas in obese individuals with PiMZ it amounted to 92.2 ml (p = 0.03). Corresponding numbers for persistent smokers differed even more strongly (66.8 ml (PiMM) vs. 108.2 ml (PiMZ), p = 0.005). Equivalent, but less strong associations were observed for the change in the FEV1/FVC ratio.
We suggest that, in addition to the well established impact of the rare PiZZ genotype, one Z allele may be sufficient to accelerate lung function decline in population subgroups characterized by elevated levels of low grade inflammation.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a common single-gene disorder among Northern Europeans and North Americans. The carrier frequency for the common missense mutation (Z-AAT) ranges from 4% in the US to nearly 25% in the Republic of Ireland. Severe AAT deficiency (plasma levels below 11 μm) is most commonly associated with an adult-onset lung disease, with pan-acinar emphysema and airway inflammation, which is thought to be primarily owing to the loss of function of AAT in neutralizing neutrophil elastase and other pro-inflammatory enzymes. In 5–10% of patients, severe liver disease may develop. This may occur at any time from infancy to adulthood, and is thought to be owing to toxicity from the Z-AAT mutant protein that folds poorly and forms insoluble polymers within the hepatocyte, which is the primary site for AAT production. Thus, gene therapy for AAT lung disease is conceived of as augmentation of serum levels (a prolonged form of protein replacement, which is currently in use), while gene therapy for liver disease presents the problem of also having to downregulate the production of Z-AAT protein. Over the years, numerous strategies have been employed for the gene therapy of both AAT-deficient lung disease and liver disease. These will be reviewed with an emphasis on modalities that have reached clinical trials recently.
Inherited mutations in the human α1-antitrypsin (AAT) gene lead to deficient circulating levels of AAT protein and a predisposition to developing emphysema. Gene therapy for individuals deficient in AAT is an attractive goal, because transfer of a normal AAT gene into any cell type able to secrete AAT should reverse deficient AAT levels and attenuate progression of lung disease. Here we present an approach for AAT gene transfer based on the transplantation of lentivirally transduced hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). We develop a novel dual-promoter lentiviral system to transfer normal human AAT cDNA as well as a fluorescent tracking “reporter gene” into murine HSCs. After transplantation of 3,000 transduced HSCs into irradiated mouse recipients, we demonstrate simultaneous and sustained systemic expression of both genes in vivo for at least 31 weeks. The stem cells transduced with this protocol maintain multipotency, self-renewal potential, and the ability to reconstitute the hematopoietic systems of both primary and secondary recipients. This lentiviral-based system may be useful for investigations requiring the systemic secretion of anti-proteases or cytokines relevant to the pathogenesis of a variety of lung diseases.
gene therapy; bone marrow; α1-antitrypsin; lung; stem cells
The principal determining factors influencing the development of the airway disease and emphysema components of COPD have not been clearly defined. Genetic variability in COPD patients might influence the varying degrees of involvement of airway disease and emphysema. Therefore, we investigated genetic association of SNPs in COPD candidate genes for association with emphysema severity and airway wall thickness phenotypes.
Polymorphisms in six candidate genes were analyzed in 379 subjects of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) Genetics Ancillary Study with quantitative chest CT data. Genetic association with percent of lung below −950 hounsfield units (LAA950), airway wall thickness (WT), and derived square root wall area of 10 mm internal perimeter airways (SRWA) were investigated.
Three SNPs in EPHX1, five SNPs in SERPINE2, and one SNP in GSTP1 were significantly associated with LAA950. Five SNPs in TGFB1, two SNPs in EPHX1, one SNP in SERPINE2, and two SNPs in ADRB2 were associated with airway wall phenotypes in NETT.
In conclusion, several COPD candidate genes showed evidence for association with airway wall thickness and emphysema severity using CT in a severe COPD population. Further investigation will be required to replicate these genetic associations for emphysema and airway wall phenotypes.
Airway; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; computed tomography; emphysema; genetic association
The serine proteinase inhibitor α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is produced principally by the liver at the rate of 2 g/d. It is secreted into the circulation and provides an antiprotease protective screen throughout the body but most importantly in the lung, where it can neutralise the activity of the serine protease neutrophil elastase. Mutations leading to deficiency in AAT are associated with liver and lung disease. The most notable is the Z AAT mutation, which encodes a misfolded variant of the AAT protein in which the glutamic acid at position 342 is replaced by a lysine. More than 95% of all individuals with AAT deficiency carry at least one Z allele. ZAAT protein is not secreted effectively and accumulates intracellularly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of hepatocytes and other AAT-producing cells. This results in a loss of function associated with decreased circulating and intrapulmonary levels of AAT. However, the misfolded protein acquires a toxic gain of function that impacts on the ER. A major function of the ER is to ensure correct protein folding. ZAAT interferes with this function and promotes ER stress responses and inflammation. Here the signalling pathways activated during ER stress in response to accumulation of ZAAT are described and therapeutic strategies that can potentially relieve ER stress are discussed.
α-1 antitrypsin; Unfolded protein response; Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Apoptosis; Autophagy; NFκB
Alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a hereditary disorder associated with reduced AAT plasma levels, predisposing adults to pulmonary emphysema. The most common genetic AAT variants found in patients are the mildly deficient S and the severely deficient Z alleles, but several other pathogenic rare alleles have been reported. While the plasma AAT deficiency is a common trait of the disease, only a few AAT variants, including the prototypic Z AAT and some rare variants, form cytotoxic polymers in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes and predispose to liver disease. Here we report the identification of three new rare AAT variants associated to reduced plasma levels and characterize their molecular behaviour in cellular models. The variants, called Mpisa (Lys259Ile), Etaurisano (Lys368Glu) and Yorzinuovi (Pro391His), showed reduced secretion compared to control M AAT, and accumulated to different extents in the cells as ordered polymeric structures resembling those formed by the Z variant. Structural analysis of the mutations showed that they may facilitate polymerization both by loosening ‘latch’ interactions constraining the AAT reactive loop and through effects on core packing. In conclusion, the new AAT deficiency variants, besides increasing the risk of lung disease, may predispose to liver disease, particularly if associated with the common Z variant. The new mutations cluster structurally, thus defining a region of the AAT molecule critical for regulating its conformational state.
The SERPINA1, SERPINA3, and SERPINE2 genes, which encode antiproteases, have been proposed to be susceptible genes for of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and related phenotypes. Whether they are associated with emphysema is not known.
Twelve previously reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SERPINA1 (rs8004738, rs17751769, rs709932, rs11832, rs1303, rs28929474, and rs17580), SERPINA3 (rs4934, rs17473, and rs1800463), and SERPINE2 (rs840088 and rs975278) were genotyped in samples obtained from 1,335 consecutive autopsies of elderly Japanese people. The association between these SNPs and the severity of emphysema, as assessed using macroscopic scores, was determined.
Emphysema of more than moderate degree was detected in 189 subjects (14.1%) and showed a significant gender difference (males, 20.5% and females, 7.0%; p < 0.0001). Among the 12 examined SNPs, only rs975278 in the SERPINE2 gene was positively associated with emphysema. Unlike the major alleles, homozygous minor alleles of rs975278 were associated with emphysema (odds ratio (OR) = 1.54; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.02-2.30; p = 0.037) and the association was very prominent in smokers (OR = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.29-3.15; p = 0.002).
SERPINE2 may be a risk factor for the development of emphysema and its association with emphysema may be stronger in smokers.