- AAT genes can hide until lung dysfuntion persists.breath test machine 2 image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com
Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein made in the liver that travels through the bloodstream into the lungs to keep lung tissue healthy. When patients are AAT-deficient, they are likely to acquire COPD in middle age. AAT deficiency occurs when irregularly shaped proteins cannot escape the liver, so the lungs do not receive enough AAT to protect lung tissue. AAT genes are inherited, and many people never realize they have the protein deficiency until the condition causes lung disease.
Surfactant Protein C
- OPN-deficient mice were able to overcome COPD symptoms.mouse image by dariuszsankowski from Fotolia.com
Osteopontin (OPN) is a protein that expresses itself in inflammatory lung conditions and diseases. The protein interacts with many cell-surface receptors including those involved in bone growth, inflammation and wound healing. OPN also has been shown to worsen the effects of autoimmune diseases. Researchers at the University of Texas–Houston Medical School performed a study that showed OPN-deficient mice prone to COPD were able to avoid COPD symptoms after reductions in the protein. The report of the study, published in the FASEB Journal in 2010, also showed elevated levels of OPN among patients with COPD.
- The American Lung Association reports clinical trials are under way to discover new drug therapies to prevent protein abnormalities that may lead to lung dysfunction and disease. The association also reports that one of the largest web-based clinical trial information organizations helping with this effort is CenterWatch in Boston.