Navigation Links
Genetic link between pancreatitis and alcohol consumption, says Pitt team

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 12, 2012 A new study published online today in Nature Genetics reveals a genetic link between chronic pancreatitis and alcohol consumption. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and more than 25 other health centers across the United States found a genetic variant on chromosome X near the claudin-2 gene (CLDN2) that predicts which men who are heavy drinkers are at high risk of developing chronic pancreatitis. This finding enables doctors to identify people with early signs of pancreatitis or an attack of acute pancreatitis who are at very high risk for progressing to chronic pancreatitis, allowing them to take preventative action to slow the development of the disease, and give the pancreas a chance to heal. Once an individual develops pancreatitis it takes several years for the pancreas to deteriorate.

"The discovery that chronic pancreatitis has a genetic basis solves a major mystery about why some people develop chronic pancreatitis and others do not," said David C. Whitcomb, M.D., professor of medicine, cell biology and physiology, and human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and lead author of the report. "We also knew there was an unexpected higher risk of men developing pancreatitis with alcohol consumption, but until now we weren't sure why. Our discovery of this new genetic variant on chromosome X helps explain this mystery as well."

Over 100,000 Americans suffer from chronic pancreatitis, a progressive inflammatory disease characterized by abdominal pain and permanent damage to the pancreas. Most studies report excessive alcohol consumption as the major risk factor for adult-onset chronic pancreatitis. However, according to Dr. Whitcomb, who also is chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, only 3 percent of individuals who are alcoholics develop chronic pancreatitis, suggesting a pancreas-specific risk factor.

The study was conducted over 10 years and involved more than 2,000 patients, all of whom underwent DNA testing in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers discovered that there was a common DNA variant on the X chromosome that is present in 26 percent of men without pancreatitis, but jumps to nearly 50 percent of men diagnosed with alcoholic pancreatitis. Women have two X chromosomes, so most women with the high-risk DNA variant on one X chromosome appear to be protected from alcoholic chronic pancreatitis by the other X chromosome, if it is normal. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome, so if they inherit a high-risk X chromosome, there is no protection.

The factor on chromosome X does not appear to cause pancreatitis, but if pancreatic injury occurs for any reason such as gallstone pancreatitis or abdominal trauma, it is more likely that the person will develop chronic pancreatitis especially if they also drink alcohol.

"This information is important because the high-risk chromosome can be identified in patients who drink and have early signs of pancreatic injury," said Dhiraj Yadav, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Pitt, and a co-investigator on the study. "If pancreatic injury and acute pancreatitis occur, patients must stop drinking immediately."

Nationally, 16 percent of men drink alcohol at levels defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as high risk. Twenty-six percent of these men who drink heavily are at high risk of chronic pancreatitis following pancreas injury. Only 10 percent of women drink alcohol at dangerous levels, and of these only 6 percent have the X chromosome variant on both X chromosomes.

"Previous discoveries show that chronic pancreatitis without alcohol involvement has a strong genetic link. This helps to eliminate the previous stigma that patients with chronic pancreatitis must also be heavy drinkers," added Dr. Whitcomb. "This study proves that there is a genetic element to the disease."

Referrals of at-risk patients are welcome at UPMC and other large academic centers. The Pancreas Clinic within the UPMC Digestive Disorder Center is designed to evaluate patients using genetic and other data to provide treatment that is individualized to each patient. In addition to clinical care, the physician-scientists who staff this clinic are actively involved in teaching physicians and trainees the art and science of personalized medicine for chronic pancreatitis.


Contact: Cristina Mestre
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Related medicine news :

1. Wake Forest Baptist research goes global with genetic center in India
2. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine: New open access journal launched by Wiley
3. New light on the genetic basis of inflammatory diseases
4. Genetic test results for Lynch syndrome improved with new computer program
5. IU researchers report first effective treatment of tumors arising from common genetic disease NF1
6. Smoking and hyperactivity share common genetic risk factor
7. Moffitt Researchers find genetic predictors of fatigue for some prostate cancer patients
8. CWRUs Maxwell J. Mehlmans book examines issues emerging in genetic engineering
9. Genetically-engineered preclinical models predict pharmacodynamic response
10. Scientists Map Genetic Blueprint of Heart
11. Epigenetics emerges powerfully as a clinical tool
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... There is only one major question facing all law firms in ... question has not been an easy question to answer. Especially when the senior partners ... workforce don’t share the same discipline around working long hours. , In addition ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an ... the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia suggested that laws requiring ... injuries. The article explains that part of the reason for the controversial conclusion is ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... The rapid speed at which Americans ... more care is needed, especially with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive conditions becoming ... The forgotten part of this equation: 80 percent of medical care occurs in ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... safe and convenient way to dispense prescription medications at home, so he invented ... way to monitor and dispense prescription medications. In doing so, it could help ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice Pickers just announced ... offering customers 10% off of their purchase of lice treatment product. In addition, customers ... According to a company spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way to ruin the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Países Bajos, November 26, 2015 ... terapia fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para el cáncer avanzado. ... inmunoterapia con la terapia fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para el ... nuevo enfoque combina la inmunoterapia con la terapia fotodinámica ... Clinical Cancer Research . --> Clinical ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Nov. 26, 2015 Research and Markets ... "Asia Pacific Cardiac Pacemaker Market Outlook to 2019 - Rise ... the Demand " report to their offering. ... --> Boston scientific and others. ... players including Medtronic, Biotronik, Boston scientific ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... the addition of the "2016 Future ... Drugs of Abuse Testing Market: Supplier Shares, ... report to their offering. --> ... of the "2016 Future Horizons and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: