Clinical problems in the C1-inhibitor deficient patient

The clinical course of C1-INH deficiency is presently well established. There is an inherited form (Hereditary Angioedema) characterized by recurrence of cutaneous and mucous swellings appearing early in life and usually accompanied by substantial family history, and an acquired form (Acquired Angioedema) where identical symptoms start after the fourth decade of life without family history. The acquired form can be associated with other diseases, mainly B cell disorders, and/or with autoantibodies to C1-INH. The biochemical characteristic is the functional deficiency of C1-INH and of C4 and C2. Moreover a marked deficiency of C1 is present in most acquired forms, but never in the inherited ones. C1-INH deficiency can be corrected by attenuated androgens that increase C1-INH levels in a few days and are effective in the prophylaxis of attacks, or by substitutive therapy with C1-INH plasma concentrate that is the life-saving drug in laryngeal edema. Patients with the inherited form have a uniformly good response to both these treatments which are otherwise effective only in a minority of patients with the acquired deficiency. In these subjects C1-INH concentrate needs to be given in higher doses and prevention of attacks is obtained with antifibrinolytic agents (Tranexamic acid).

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