Alpha 1-antitrypsin is a protein involved in the modulation of the immune system. When active, it resists the enzymes produced by inflammation to prevent damage to healthy cells. It is produced by the liver in response to widespread inflammation.

An absence of alpha 1 can lead to the breakdown of elastin, a protein that give elasticity to tissues, particularly the lungs. Over the long term, this can lead to COPD.

Some genetic conditions, such as Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency result in faulty alpha 1, which cannot perform its proper function. Excess damaged alpha 1 can build up in the liver causing cirrhosis.

Pharmaceutical preparations of alpha 1 are being developed to treat lung conditions. However, it is currently very expensive as it must be extracted from plasma.

Alpha 1-antitrypsin at Wikipedia

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