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Clin Genet. 2003 Nov;64(5):382-97.

Genetic epidemiology of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency in North America and Australia/New Zealand: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America.

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  • 1National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, PO Box 12233, Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology, Environmental Toxicology Program, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA 27709-2233, USA.


Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency) is one of the most common serious hereditary disorders in the world, as its affects all major racial subgroups worldwide, and there are an estimated 120.5 million carriers and deficient subjects worldwide. This genetic disease is related to susceptibility for development of jaundice in infants, liver disease in children and adults and pulmonary emphysema in adults. Moreover, AAT deficiency carrier phenotypes (PiMS and PiMZ) and deficiency allele phenotypes (PiSS, PiSZ and PiZZ) are suspected to predispose subjects to a variety of other adverse health effects. Because there is a limited database on the number of individuals affected by this disease worldwide, we have collected data on control cohorts in genetic epidemiological studies published on case-control studies in the peer-reviewed literature worldwide. Based on these data, we estimated the numbers of carriers and deficiency allele combinations for the two most common defective alleles, namely PiS and PiZ in 58 countries worldwide. The present paper focuses on the distribution of the PiS and PiZ deficiency alleles in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. A total of 31,042,232 individuals at risk for adverse health effects have been calculated in these four countries: 2,144,158 in Australia, 3,258,564 in Canada, 430,922 in New Zealand and 24,909,548 in the United States of America. The prevalences for all five phenotypic classes of AAT deficiency in each of these countries is as follows: Australia 1 out of 8.9, Canada 1 out of 9.8, New Zealand 1 out of 8.5 and the United States of America 1 out of 11.3. The geographical distribution of individual control cohorts and estimates of the numbers of carriers and deficiency allele phenotypes in each of these four countries are given in individual tables.

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