Hereditary angioedema: an update on available therapeutic options

There is no cure for hereditary angioedema (HAE). Therapeutic approaches consist of symptomatic therapy for acute attacks, short-term prophylaxis before surgery, and long-term prophylaxis for those with frequent and severe attacks. In Germany, C1-INH concentrate and icatibant are licensed for acute therapy. C1-INH concentrate, which is obtained from human plasma, is administered intravenously to restore the deficient C1-INH activity. This therapy, which has been available for decades, is effective and well-tolerated. Batch documentation is required by German law. The synthetic decapeptide icatibant is administered subcutaneously. It competes with bradykinin, the responsible inducer of edema formation, for binding to the bradykinin B2 receptor. Icatibant is also effective and well-tolerated, even on repeated administration. An additional human C1-inhibitor, a recombinant human C1-inhibitor and the recombinant inhibitor of kallikrein ecallantide are currently under development. There are no licensed treatment options available in Germany for long- and short-term prophylaxis. Androgen derivatives are established in long-term prophylaxis. However, they are associated with many adverse effects, some of which are severe. Many drug interactions also limit their use. They are contraindicated in pregnancy, lactation, for children and in cases of prostate cancer. Antifibrinolytics have fewer adverse effects but are also less effective than androgens. They are contraindicated in thromboembolic disease and impaired vision. If androgen therapy has too negative an effect on quality of life, it may be worth reducing the dose or discontinuing therapy entirely and treating attacks with acute therapy.

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