Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare genetic disorder primarily caused by mutations in the SERPING1 gene encoding the C1 inhibitor (C1INH) that leads to plasma deficiency, resulting in recurrent attacks of severe swelling. In the current issue of the JCI, Haslund et al. show that in a subset of patients with type I HAE, mutated C1INH encoded by HAE-causing SERPING1 acts upon wildtype (WT) C1INH in a dominant-negative manner and forms intracellular C1INH aggregates. These aggregates lead to a reduction in the levels of secreted functional C1INH, thereby manifesting in the condition that allows the disease state. Interestingly, administration of WT SERPING1 gene is able to restore the levels of secreted C1INH, thereby opening up a novel mechanism justifying gene therapy for HAE.
Alvin H. Schmaier