Elafin is a soluble endogenous protein produced by the human body and is a natural inhibitor of the two tissue destroying enzymes, neutrophil elastase and proteinase-3. Both of these enzymes are known to be involved in the inflammatory response occurring in a variety of diseases. Furthermore, Elafin inactivates an additional enzyme (endogenous vascular elastase), which is involved in inflammatory damage to blood vessels.
Elafin is unique due to its human origin, its specificity for the relevant human proteases and its low toxic potential compared with synthetic alternatives. Due to its broad anti-inflammatory mode of action, Elafin represents a multi indication product.
Elafin inhibits the proteolytic enzymes elastase and proteinase 3 as well as the endogenous vascular elastase (EVE). Elastase and proteinase 3 are capable of generating activated pro-inflammatory mediators (TNFα, IL-1β, IL-8, IL-18) which are responsible for initiating and maintaining inflammation. Furthermore these enzymes are capable of degrading a broad variety of tissue components (extracellular matrix) which form the architecture of organs, e.g. elastic fibres. Additionally, elastase is capable of inducing mucus production in the lungs by a specific mechanism. Endogenous vascular elastase is able to induce the thickening of vessel walls, which in turn diminishes their inner diameter resulting in insufficient blood flow and increase of blood pressure in the affected vasculature. In severe cases the outcome is fatal tissue necrosis. Elafin, a natural inhibitor of elastase, proteinase 3 and EVE, is able to counteract these damaging effects.