The attenuated androgen Danazol can partially reverse the biochemical defect and prevent angioedema in patients with inherited C1-inhibitor (C1-INH) deficiency (hereditary angioedema, HAE). Though its clinical effectiveness is independent from significant increase of C1-INH plasma levels, its mechanism of action remains unknown. Since angioedema is a local phenomenon, it could be controlled by restoring tissue levels of C1-INH. We measured the expression of C1-INH mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 13 patients with HAE type 1 (seven untreated and asymptomatic, and six on Danazol at the minimal effective dose) and of eight normal controls. mRNA levels were quantitated by computerized optical densitometry of reverse transcriptase-PCR products, normalized for the amount of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase and expressed as percent of normal pooled RNAs. Each determination represented the mean of three separate experiments. Measurement of C1-INH mRNA in two patients before and after 1 month of Danazol 400 mg per day demonstrated a post-treatment increase of 15 and 21%, respectively. When HAE patients and controls were analyzed as groups, C1-INH mRNA levels of patients untreated and asymptomatic (median 73%, range 65-78) were significantly lower (P=0.001) compared to controls (median 101%, range 87-121) and to patients on Danazol (median 91%, range 82-96); the difference among the last two groups was not statistically significant. Our data demonstrate that minimal effective doses of Danazol increase the expression of C1-INH mRNA in PBMC of HAE patients even in the absence of a significant increase of C1-INH plasma levels.
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