PURPOSE: New treatment options for acute edema attacks caused by hereditary angioedema (HAE) are reviewed.
SUMMARY: HAE is characterized by mutations in the C1 inhibitor gene leading to either a reduced expression of C1 inhibitor in the plasma or expression of a functionally impaired C1 inhibitor. HAE is classified into two major types based on the cause of the C1 inhibitor deficiency. Type I HAE is defined by a reduced expression of C1 inhibitor in the plasma, whereas type II HAE is characterized by the expression of a dysfunctional C1 inhibitor protein. Clinical data were reviewed for C1 inhibitor, ecallantide, and icatibant in the treatment of acute edema attacks caused by HAE. C1 inhibitor leads to a faster onset of edema relief and is effective in decreasing the duration of edema. Dosing strategies include fixed dosing and weight-based dosing. Optimal dosing strategies have not been established, but fixed dosing (500-1000 units) or 20 units/kg has been effective in clinical trials and reports. No comparative trials suggest that one strategy is superior to another; however, the approved labeling for acute treatment is based on weight. Ecallantide is also efficacious for treating acute episodes; however, the available evidence is limited to a single published trial. Icatibant has shown variable effects in two trials with placebo and active controls.
CONCLUSION: In patients with HAE, most edema episodes only involve the skin and gastrointestinal tract, though airway obstruction caused by laryngeal angioedema is the most common cause of death. I.V. C1 inhibitor should be considered first-line treatment for acute edema attacks because of its fast onset of action and effectiveness, though it is not clear whether fixed or weight-based dosing is preferred. Ecallantide can be considered as a second-line treatment option.