Disease at a Glance

Summary
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is an inherited disease that causes an increased risk of having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), liver disease, skin problems (panniculitis), and inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis). Lung (pulmonary) problems almost always occur in adults, whereas liver and skin problems may occur in adults and children. Symptoms may include shortness of breath and wheezing, repeated infections of the lungs and liver, yellow skin, feeling overly tired (fatigue), rapid heartbeat when standing, vision problems, and weight loss. However, some people with AATD do not have any problems. AATD is caused by genetic changes (pathogenic variants) in the SERPINA1 gene and is inherited in a codominant manner. The genetic changes cause too little or no working alpha-1 antitrypsin protein (AAT) to be made. AAT is made in the liver cells and sent through the bloodstream to the lungs where it helps protect the lungs from damage. Having low levels of AAT (or no AAT) may lead the lungs to become damaged. A build-up of abnormal AAT may cause liver damage. Diagnosis may be suspected by finding low levels of AAT in the blood and confirmed by genetic testing.
Estimated Number of People with this Disease
In the U.S., this disease is estimated to be fewer than

200,000

What Information Does GARD Have For This Disease?

Many rare diseases have limited information. Currently GARD is able to provide the following information for this disease:

*Data may be currently unavailable to GARD at this time.
When do symptoms of this disease begin?
The most common ages for symptoms of a disease to begin is called age of onset. Age of onset can vary for different diseases and may be used by a doctor to determine the diagnosis. For some diseases, symptoms may begin in a single age range or several age ranges. For other diseases, symptoms may begin any time during a person's life.
Prenatal Selected
Before Birth
Newborn Selected
Birth-4 weeks
Infant Selected
1-23 months
Child Selected
2-11 years
Adolescent Selected
12-18 years
Adult Selected
19-65 years
Older Adult Selected
65+ years
The common ages for symptoms to begin in this disease are shown above by the colored icon(s).

Symptoms

These symptoms may be different from person to person. Some people may have more symptoms than others and symptoms can range from mild to severe. This list does not include every symptom.
This disease might cause these symptoms:
Respiratory System

6 Symptoms

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Respiratory System

The respiratory system is made up of the lungs and the nose, mouth, throat, voice box, windpipe, diaphragm, and muscles of the chest wall. This system controls breathing, providing the body with oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. Common symptoms of problems in the respiratory system include chronic cough, shortness of breath, chronic chest pain, coughing up blood, and chronic mucus production. Diseases of the respiratory system may be diagnosed and treated by a pulmonologist.

Causes

Genetic Disease

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic disease, which means that it is caused by one or more genes not working correctly.

Disease causing variants in the following gene(s) are known to cause this disease: SERPINA1

Questions:

Inheritance

All individuals inherit two copies of most genes. The number of copies of a gene that need to have a disease-causing variant affects the way a disease is inherited. This disease is inherited in the following pattern(s):

Questions:

Last Updated: Nov. 8, 2021