, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 115-120

Genetic testing in acute and chronic pancreatitis

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Hereditary pancreatitis (HP) is clinically indistinguishable from pancreatitis with other causes. Patients with HP have an increased chance of developing pancreatitis. Mutations in the cationic trypsinogen gene appear to cause most HP, although there is evidence for mild genetic heterogeneity with defects in other genes. Trypsin stabilization and protection from autolysis appear to play a central role in the pathogenesis of pancreatitis. The role of mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) as well as the pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI) in patients with pancreatitis is intriguing but as yet incompletely understood. Genetic testing may help to identify and manage patients with HP. Healthcare professionals should understand the elements necessary for obtaining informed consent for patients undergoing these tests, the limits in interpreting test results, and the psychosocial issues that may arise from genetic testing.