What is the biochemical activity of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD)?

Updated: Sep 11, 2020
  • Author: Dora E Izaguirre Anariba, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Answer

The major biochemical activity of the alpha1-antitrypsin molecule is inhibition of several neutrophil-derived proteases (eg, trypsin, elastase, proteinase 3, cathepsin G). Therefore, the protein is more accurately termed alpha1-antiprotease. However, most physicians, and virtually all patients, refer to the disease as alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, and doctors and patients often refer to those who are affected as "alphas."

Hepatocytes synthesize alpha1-antiprotease. After its release from the liver, alpha1-antiprotease circulates unbound and diffuses into interstitial and alveolar lining fluids. Its principal function in the lung is to inactivate neutrophil elastase, an enzyme that is released during normal phagocytosis of organisms or particles in the alveoli.


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