Early Intra-Acinar Events in Pathogenesis of Pancreatitis

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45 Scopus citations


Premature activation of digestive enzymes in the pancreas has been linked to development of pancreatitis for more than a century. Recent development of novel models to study the role of pathologic enzyme activation has led to advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of pancreatic injury. Colocalization of zymogen and lysosomal fraction occurs early after pancreatitis-causing stimulus. Cathepsin B activates trypsinogen in these colocalized organelles. Active trypsin increases permeability of these organelles resulting in leakage of cathepsin B into the cytosol leading to acinar cell death. Although trypsin-mediated cell death leads to pancreatic injury in early stages of pancreatitis, multiple parallel mechanisms, including activation of inflammatory cascades, endoplasmic reticulum stress, autophagy, and mitochondrial dysfunction in the acinar cells are now recognized to be important in driving the profound systemic inflammatory response and extensive pancreatic injury seen in acute pancreatitis. Chymotrypsin, another acinar protease, has recently been shown be play critical role in clearance of pathologically activated trypsin protecting against pancreatic injury. Mutations in trypsin and other genes thought to be associated with pathologic enzyme activation (such as serine protease inhibitor 1) have been found in familial forms of pancreatitis. Sustained intra-acinar activation of nuclear factor κB pathway seems to be key pathogenic mechanism in chronic pancreatitis. Better understanding of these mechanisms will hopefully allow us to improve treatment strategies in acute and chronic pancreatitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1979-1993
Number of pages15
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Acute Pancreatitis
  • Cathepsin B
  • Chronic Pancreatitis
  • Trypsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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