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J Med Case Rep. 2011 Apr 19;5:154. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-5-154.

Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficient man presenting with lung function decline associated with dust exposure: a case report.

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505 Parnassus Avenue, M1097, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



People with α1-antitrypsin deficiency are at increased risk for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Previous retrospective epidemiologic studies have found that exposure to occupational dust among those with α1-antitrypsin deficiency is a risk factor at the group level for poorer lung function, but on an individual clinical basis, a causal attribution can be difficult to establish.


We describe the case of a 68-year-old Caucasian man with a 25 pack-year smoking history who presented with new-onset dyspnea on exertion in the setting of workplace dust exposure. During his evaluation, he was found to have α1-antitrypsin deficiency with evidence of development of pulmonary emphysema. Workplace spirometric monitoring over 10 years of surveillance for an on-the-job respirator fit program demonstrated a sharp downward slope in forced expiratory volume in one second, or FEV1, during his periods of most significant dust exposure, which was attenuated after discontinuation of his workplace exposure.


Patients with α1-antitrypsin disease should be assessed for occupational exposures and closely monitored for work-accelerated progression of lung function decline. More generally, this case report supports the biological plausibility of occupationally associated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, underscoring that work-associated pulmonary disease can be multi-factorial.

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