Gene targeted therapeutics for liver disease in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
journal contributionposted on 22.11.2019, 16:33 by Caitriona McLean, Catherine M. Greene, Noel G. McElvaney
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (A1AT) is a 52 kDa serine protease inhibitor that is synthesized in and secreted from the liver. Although it is present in all tissues in the body the present consensus is that its main role is to inhibit neutrophil elastase in the lung. A1AT deficiency occurs due to mutations of the A1AT gene that reduce serum A1AT levels to <35% of normal. The most clinically significant form of A1AT deficiency is caused by the Z mutation (Glu342Lys). ZA1AT polymerizes in the endoplasmic reticulum of liver cells and the resulting accumulation of the mutant protein can lead to liver disease, while the reduction in circulating A1AT can result in lung disease including early onset emphysema. There is currently no available treatment for the liver disease other than transplantation and therapies for the lung manifestations of the disease remain limited. Gene therapy is an evolving field which may be of use as a treatment for A1AT deficiency. As the liver disease associated with A1AT deficiency may represent a gain of function possible gene therapies for this condition include the use of ribozymes, peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) and RNA interference (RNAi), which by decreasing the amount of aberrant protein in cells may impact on the pathogenesis of the condition.