Michael Jackson May Have Had Genetic Lung Disease Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Michael Jackson May Have Had Genetic Lung Disease Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 29, 2009 in Personalities with DNA

image Did Michael Jackson have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency? In December 2008, rumors surfaced from a biography by Ian Halperin that Jackson needed a lung transplant because he had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD).

Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein produced by the liver that acts to protect various organs including the lungs. When a person inherits A1AD, their body produces proteins that are deformed which can also lead to liver disease. An estimated 1 in every 1,600 people to 1 in every 5,000 people have A1AD.

DNA tests for A1AD are available that look at alleles of the SERPINA1 gene (see Genetics Home Reference). People with two copies of the M allele (MM) have normal levels of AAT. Those with two copies of the Z allele (ZZ) are at highest risk of developing severe symptoms including lung disease and liver disease especially if they smoke.

Other illnesses Jackson may have suffered from:

  • Flesh eating disease caused by a staph infection following cosmetic surgery.
  • Skin cancer
  • Costochondritis, inflammation of the cartilage at the front of the ribs
  • Addiction to painkillers
  • Vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder that affects the pigment-producing cells of the skin
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Anxiety
  • Back spasms

Autopsy results may or may not tell us whether Michael Jackson had A1AD or other inherited disorders. Hopefully he was receiving any treatments he may have needed.

NZ Herald News, USA Today 

(Testing the blogging waters….)



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Comment by Atul Salgaonkar

Celebrity personalities live in seclusion and have their public lives based on rumors and half-truths. Due to this, they make poor examples for showcasing the promise of gene-mapping and related technologies.

Exceptions to this include those forward thinking personalities who use their fame and celebrity status to advance the awareness and related research – such as Michael J Fox.


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