Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (A1AT)
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (A1AT) is a protein that protects the lungs from any damage by regulating the activity of several enzymes that break down proteins and cause damage to the lung tissue. Some individuals suffer from a deficiency of this enzyme owing to gene mutations and a family history of the deficiency of this enzyme and are at an increased risk of developing a progressive lung disease (emphysema). Newborns and infants with A1AT deficiency suffer from severe liver disease and jaundice. In adults, the deficiency of A1AT increases the risk of severe liver damage, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. An Alpha-1 antitrypsin test is used to measure A1AT levels in the blood.
Why is the test ordered?
The test is helpful in the diagnosis of A1AT deficiency in the body that causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or early onset of emphysema in the absence of any apparent risk factors. The test may also be recommended if the condition of asthma is not being resolved after treatment. The test is primarily recommended for infants and young children to help diagnose the cause of unexplained liver damage and persistent jaundice.
When is the test ordered?
The test may be recommended if an individual younger than 40 years experiences the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Any other signs of emphysema
The test may be recommended for infants who show signs and symptoms of liver damage. The test may also be ordered for individuals who have a family history of A1AT deficiency.
How is the sample collected?
A blood sample is collected from a vein in the arm.
How to prepare for the test?
There is no special preparation required for the test.