Letter | Published:

α1-Antitrypsin is an effector of immunological stasis

Naturevolume 274pages589590 (1978) | Download Citation



SEVERAL proteins in normal serum can serve as suppressors or enhancers of the immune response. Recently an α-globulin-rich fraction of Cohn fraction IV, designated IRA (immuneregulatory α-globulin), has been implicated in suppressing the in vitro antibody response of mouse spleen cells to sheep red cells without cytotoxicity1. Studies by Chase2 also indicate that α2-macroglobulin, one of the protease inhibitors present in normal serum, limits the human lymphocyte response to phytohaemagglutinin, and concanavalin A as measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation. A similar role for α1-antitrypsin (α1-AT), the major protease inhibitor in normal serum, can be proposed for involvement in the regulation of the immune response. Proteases have been found on both the surface and in the medium of cultured cells3; they have also been implicated in altering the electrophoretic mobility4, in vivo migration5 and blast transformation6 of lymphocytes. The physiological function of α1-AT in the serum is unknown. It is not clear why there is an increase of this protease inhibitor in certain physiological and pathological conditions7. Results presented here suggest that α1-AT has an immunoregulatory role, by suppressing the in vivo and in vitro immune response of mouse spleen cells against sheep red cells (SRBC).

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  1. Department of Microbiology and Public Health, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824

  2. Department of Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824



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