Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Adult Liver Study

  • End date
    Sep 21, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    St. Louis University
Updated on 21 March 2022
liver disease
liver injury
liver study
alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (human)


The investigators hypothesize that there is liver injury (inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis) in adults with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD), which is asymptomatic, under-recognized, and undiagnosed. In addition, the investigators believe that the genetic and environmental factors that play an important role in the development of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) liver disease, can be identified by comparing a cohort database of clinical disease information to linked biospecimen and DNA samples.


Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) is a genetic disorder resulting in a low level of a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT). This deficiency can cause life-threatening liver disease and/or lung disease at various ages. Some patients experience life-threatening liver disease in childhood or liver cancer as adults. There is no specific treatment for AAT related liver disease. Some patients develop emphysema as young adults, while some patients remain healthy throughout their lives. Differences in the environment or in other genes may explain such inconsistency in the disease.

The primary objective of this multi-center study is to assess the natural history of individuals with Pi-ZZ AAT deficiency, identify biomarkers for the progression of liver disease and construct a database capable of linking cohort data with repository biospecimens. The secondary objective is to analyze components of the demographic, social, and family history associated with more severe liver disease.

This study will examine the natural history of liver disease by recording participant's family history, medical history, current health, laboratory test results, and medical treatment(s). Participants may complete brief research questionnaires about their physical and mental health, diet, alcohol intake, and smoke, environmental and occupational (work) exposures.

At least 120 Pi-ZZ AAT deficient adults with no previous history of liver disease, moderate-severe liver disease, or post liver transplant, will be enrolled at one of three sites. Eligible subjects will participate in one of the following study arms:

  1. Liver Biopsy
  2. Known Severe Liver Disease - subjects not meeting Biopsy Group eligibility due to the presence of advanced liver disease
  3. Post Liver Transplant - subjects who have previously undergone a liver transplant

At the time of enrollment, each participant will be assigned a unique study identification (ID) number. All participant information recorded and samples collected for the study will be saved by this unique number. All blood, tissue and genetic samples collected will be sent to a secured repository for future retrieval and study. The process of coding data and samples lessens the chances of a breach in confidentiality.

The length of study participation, tests and activities performed specifically for research will be determined by the enrollment group. Subjects in the Biopsy and Known Severe Liver Disease groups participate in the study for 5 years (enrollment and four annual follow-up visits). Both groups undergo a physical exam, diagnostic abdominal ultrasound, pulmonary function testing and the collection of serum, plasma and blood for routine laboratory and genetic testing (Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS cells), microRNA and DNA). However, only the Biopsy Group participants undergo a liver biopsy and FibroScan at enrollment, and again in Year 5. The liver tissue samples will help the researchers learn what causes liver disease in some patients and how the liver disease progresses.

Subjects in the Post Liver Transplant group have a single study visit to record their history, complete questionnaires and perform pulmonary function testing. In addition, whole blood for DNA analysis will be collected from these participants.

Based on their study arm assignment, participants will receive copies of their diagnostic abdominal ultrasound, pulmonary function test, routine laboratory test and liver biopsy pathology results, to share with their primary care physician.

Condition Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
Treatment Liver Biopsy (Biopsy Group Only)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT02014415
SponsorSt. Louis University
Last Modified on21 March 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Adults (≥ 18 years of age), with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
Pre-transplant documented evidence of PI-ZZ phenotype or genotype
Documented evidence of liver transplantation
Both genders, all races and ethnic groups

Exclusion Criteria

Active substance abuse, that in the opinion of the study investigator, would interfere with adherence to study requirements
Concomitant severe underlying systemic illness or medical condition which in the opinion of the investigator, would make the patient unsuitable for the study or would interfere with completion of study requirements
Failure of the participant to sign informed consent or HIPAA documents
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How to participate?

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  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
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Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

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