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Schafer, C.; Tietz, A. B.; Göke, B. (2005): Pathophysiology of acute experimental pancreatitis: Lessons from genetically engineered animal models and new molecular approaches. In: Digestion, No. 3: pp. 162-172




The incidence of acute pancreatitis is growing and worldwide population-based studies report a doubling or tripling since the 1970s. 25% of acute pancreatitis are severe and associated with histological changes of necrotizing pancreatitis. There is still no specific medical treatment for acute pancreatitis. The average mortality resides around 10%. In order to develop new specific medical treatment strategies for acute pancreatitis, a better understanding of the pathophysiology during the onset of acute pancreatitis is necessary. Since it is difficult to study the early acinar events in human pancreatitis, several animal models of acute pancreatitis have been developed. By this, it is hoped that clues into human pathophysiology become possible. In the last decade, while employing molecular biology techniques, a major progress has been made. The genome of the mouse was recently sequenced. Various strategies are possible to prove a causal effect of a single gene or protein, using either gain-of-function (i.e., overexpression of the protein of interest) or loss-of-function studies (i.e., genetic deletion of the gene of interest). The availability of transgenic mouse models and gene deletion studies has clearly increased our knowledge about the pathophysiology of acute pancreatitis and enables us to study and confirm in vitro findings in animal models. In addition, transgenic models with specific genetic deletion or overexpression of genes help in understanding the role of one specific protein in a cascade of inflammatory processes such as pancreatitis where different proteins interact and co-react. This review summarizes the recent progress in this field. Copyright (c) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.