Narrator:What is Alpha-1? Let’s uncover its effects.
Lungs are part of the respiratory system, which is a group of organs and tissues that work together to help with breathing.
Sometimes, lungs get irritated by things in the air like dust, pollution, or cigarette smoke.
When this happens, substances called enzymes start to break down the irritants.
A protein called Alpha-1 antitrypsin protects the lungs by keeping these enzymes in balance.
When they’re not in balance, these enzymes can actually break down healthy lung tissue, too.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin is one of the proteins made in the liver.
Usually, most of it is sent through the blood stream...to the lungs.
Sometimes, not enough Alpha-1 antitrypsin proteins reach the lungs due to a condition called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, or Alpha-1 for short.
When this happens, there’s not enough of this protein to stop the enzyme from breaking down healthy lung tissue along with the irritants.
Alpha-1 is a genetic condition caused when there’s a mutation in the genes that tell the body how to make Alpha-1 antitrypsin proteins. These genes are inherited from your parents.
This mutation either causes the liver to make misshapen Alpha-1 antitrypsin proteins...
which can get stuck in the liver...
Or it causes the liver to not make enough Alpha-1 antitrypsin proteins.
If there aren’t enough Alpha-1 antitrypsin proteins in the lungs, it leaves too many enzymes there to potentially cause damage that cannot be undone.
This can lead to lung diseases such as COPD, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about Alpha-1 and ways to manage this condition.