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Risk factors for symptom onset in PI*Z alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

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  • 1Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.



In an early study of highly symptomatic patients with PI*Z alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT), tobacco smoking was identified as a risk factor by comparing the age of symptom onset in smokers and nonsmokers. Age of symptom onset has not been well studied in relationship to other environmental exposures.


Environmental exposures were assessed in 313 PI*Z adults through retrospective self-administered questionnaire. Age of onset of symptoms with and without these exposures were analyzed through survival analysis.


Personal smoking was the most important risk factor, associated with earlier onset of cough and wheeze, and showed a dose-dependent relationship with the onset of dyspnea. Childhood environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure was independently associated with younger age of onset of cough. Earlier onset of wheeze was also associated with childhood respiratory infections and family history of emphysema. The report of childhood respiratory infections was associated with childhood ETS exposure, but no statistically significant interactions were noted.


We conclude that both personal and secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke in childhood are likely to accelerate the onset of symptoms in AAT deficient patients. Respiratory infections in childhood may also contribute to this risk.

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