Acute Pancreatitis: Mechanisms of Cell Injury — Genetics

  • D. C. Whitcomb

Abstract

Acute pancreatitis was defined at the Symposium of Marseilles as an acute condition typically presenting with abdominal pain and usually associated with elevated pancreatic enzymes in blood or urine, due to inflammatory disease of the pancreas. This clinically based definition remains useful for diagnosing and treating most cases of acute pancreatitis. However, it also reflects the limits in identifying and understanding the molecular and cellular pathophysiologic mechanisms that underlie this common disorder. Acute pancreatitis encompasses a variety of processes. The acute injury within the pancreas appears to develop rapidly, and the inciting factors may resolve before diagnosis and therapeutic interventions can be initiated. The injury results in an acute inflammatory response that may itself worsen the injury, causing significant local and systemic complications. Investigative efforts directed toward understanding and limiting the subsequent inflammatory reaction provide some hope of improving the outcome of more severe cases, if instituted early in the disease process. However, research directed at understanding the early molecular mechanisms initiating acute pancreatitis, and developing effective preventive strategies may be equally important.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

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  • D. C. Whitcomb

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