JOURNAL ARTICLE

Hereditary angioedema with normal C1-inhibitor activity in women

K Bork, S E Barnstedt, P Koch, H Traupe
Lancet 2000 July 15, 356 (9225): 213-7
10963200

BACKGROUND: Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a well defined autosomal dominant disease (Mendelian Inheritance in Man #106100) that results from an inherited deficiency of C1 (the activated first component of complement) inhibitor function. We report an unusual variant of HAE with normal biochemical C1-inhibitor function, occurring only in women.

METHODS: We screened 574 patients with recurrent angioedema of the skin for presence of HAE. 283 patients were selected, in whom angioedema was associated with abdominal pain attacks or recurrent life-threatening episodes of upper-airway obstruction, or both, rather than with urticaria. We measured C1-inhibitor concentration and functional activity as well as complement C4 concentration and took pedigrees to characterise patients.

FINDINGS: 94 HAE cases with C1-inhibitor deficiency, positive family history, or both were identified. Biochemical testing showed that 84 patients from 49 families had a functional C1-inhibitor deficiency. 11 of these patients had no affected family members (probably representing de-novo mutations). Ten women with HAE, from ten families, had normal C1-inhibitor protein concentrations and function, and normal C4 concentration. A more detailed study of these families identified another 26 affected members, who were also all women. Of those women, 14 could be studied and also had normal C1-inhibitor concentration and function. The disease was seen in successive generations, and in offspring of affected mothers, the sex ratio (M/F) was shifted to 1/1.5.

INTERPRETATION: HAE with normal C1-inhibitor concentration and function represents a unique genetic disease arising only in women. The formal genetics of this entity are suggestive of an X-linked dominant mode of inheritance. For this disorder we propose the term hereditary angioedema type 3 (HAE III).

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