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1.  Acute pancreatitis: The stress factor 
Acute pancreatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the pancreas that may cause life-threatening complications. Etiologies of pancreatitis vary, with gallstones accounting for the majority of all cases, followed by alcohol. Other causes of pancreatitis include trauma, ischemia, mechanical obstruction, infections, autoimmune, hereditary, and drugs. The main events occurring in the pancreatic acinar cell that initiate and propagate acute pancreatitis include inhibition of secretion, intracellular activation of proteases, and generation of inflammatory mediators. Small cytokines known as chemokines are released from damaged pancreatic cells and attract inflammatory cells, whose systemic action ultimately determined the severity of the disease. Indeed, severe forms of pancreatitis may result in systemic inflammatory response syndrome and multiorgan dysfunction syndrome, characterized by a progressive physiologic failure of several interdependent organ systems. Stress occurs when homeostasis is threatened, and stressors can include physical or mental forces, or combinations of both. Depending on the timing and duration, stress can result in beneficial or harmful consequences. While it is well established that a previous acute-short-term stress decreases the severity of experimentally-induced pancreatitis, the worsening effects of chronic stress on the exocrine pancreas have received relatively little attention. This review will focus on the influence of both prior acute-short-term and chronic stress in acute pancreatitis.
PMCID: PMC4024789  PMID: 24914340
Pancreatitis; Acute stress; Chronic stress; Heat shock proteins; Tumor necrosis factor alpha
2.  Chronic stress sensitizes rats to pancreatitis induced by cerulein: Role of TNF-α 
AIM: To investigate chronic stress as a susceptibility factor for developing pancreatitis, as well as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) as a putative sensitizer.
METHODS: Rat pancreatic acini were used to analyze the influence of TNF-α on submaximal (50 pmol/L) cholecystokinin (CCK) stimulation. Chronic restraint (4 h every day for 21 d) was used to evaluate the effects of submaximal (0.2 μg/kg per hour) cerulein stimulation on chronically stressed rats.
RESULTS: In vitro exposure of pancreatic acini to TNF-α disorganized the actin cytoskeleton. This was further increased by TNF-α/CCK treatment, which additionally reduced amylase secretion, and increased trypsin and nuclear factor-κB activities in a protein-kinase-C δ and ε-dependent manner. TNF-α/CCK also enhanced caspases’ activity and lactate dehydrogenase release, induced ATP loss, and augmented the ADP/ATP ratio. In vivo, rats under chronic restraint exhibited elevated serum and pancreatic TNF-α levels. Serum, pancreatic, and lung inflammatory parameters, as well as caspases’activity in pancreatic and lung tissue, were substantially enhanced in stressed/cerulein-treated rats, which also experienced tissues’ ATP loss and greater ADP/ATP ratios. Histological examination revealed that stressed/cerulein-treated animals developed abundant pancreatic and lung edema, hemorrhage and leukocyte infiltrate, and pancreatic necrosis. Pancreatitis severity was greatly decreased by treating animals with an anti-TNF-α-antibody, which diminished all inflammatory parameters, histopathological scores, and apoptotic/necrotic markers in stressed/cerulein-treated rats.
CONCLUSION: In rats, chronic stress increases susceptibility for developing pancreatitis, which involves TNF-α sensitization of pancreatic acinar cells to undergo injury by physiological cerulein stimulation.
PMCID: PMC2992674  PMID: 21105189
Pancreatitis; Stress; Tumor necrosis factor-α
3.  VAMP8 is the v-SNARE that mediates basolateral exocytosis in a mouse model of alcoholic pancreatitis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(7):2535-2551.
In rodents and humans, alcohol exposure has been shown to predispose the pancreas to cholinergic or viral induction of pancreatitis. We previously developed a rodent model in which exposure to an ethanol (EtOH) diet, followed by carbachol (Cch) stimulation, redirects exocytosis from the apical to the basolateral plasma membrane of acinar cells, resulting in ectopic zymogen enzyme activation and pancreatitis. This redirection of exocytosis involves a soluble NSF attachment receptor (SNARE) complex consisting of syntaxin-4 and synapse-associated protein of 23 kDa (SNAP-23). Here, we investigated the role of the zymogen granule (ZG) SNARE vesicle-associated membrane protein 8 (VAMP8) in mediating basolateral exocytosis. In WT mice, in vitro EtOH exposure or EtOH diet reduced Cch-stimulated amylase release by redirecting apical exocytosis to the basolateral membrane, leading to alcoholic pancreatitis. Further reduction of zymogen secretion, caused by blockade of both apical and basolateral exocytosis and resulting in a more mild induction of alcoholic pancreatitis, was observed in Vamp8–/– mice in response to these treatments. In addition, although ZGs accumulated in Vamp8–/– acinar cells, ZG-ZG fusions were reduced compared with those in WT acinar cells, as visualized by electron microscopy. This reduction in ZG fusion may account for reduced efficiency of apical exocytosis in Vamp8–/– acini. These findings indicate that VAMP8 is the ZG-SNARE that mediates basolateral exocytosis in alcoholic pancreatitis and that VAMP8 is critical for ZG-ZG homotypic fusion.
PMCID: PMC2413188  PMID: 18535671
4.  Munc18/SNARE proteins’ regulation of exocytosis in guinea pig duodenal Brunner’s gland acini 
AIM: To examine the molecular mechanism of exocytosis in the Brunner’s gland acinar cell.
METHODS: We used a submucosal preparation of guinea pig duodenal Brunner’s gland acini to visualize the dilation of the ductal lumen in response to cholinergic stimulus. We correlated this to electron microscopy to determine the extent of exocytosis of the mucin-filled vesicles. We then examined the behavior of SNARE and interacting Munc18 proteins by confocal microscopy.
RESULTS: One and 6 μmol/L carbachol evoked a dose-dependent dilation of Brunner’s gland acini lumen, which correlated to the massive exocytosis of mucin. Munc18c and its cognate SNARE proteins Syntaxin-4 and SNAP-23 were localized to the apical plasma membrane, and upon cholinergic stimulation, Munc18c was displaced into the cytosol leaving Syntaxin-4 and SNAP-23 intact.
CONCLUSION: Physiologic cholinergic stimulation induces Munc18c displacement from the Brunner’s gland acinar apical plasma membrane, which enables apical membrane Syntaxin-4 and SNAP-23 to form a SNARE complex with mucin-filled vesicle SNARE proteins to affect exocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2705084  PMID: 18416456
Apical exocytosis; Brunner’s gland acini; Munc18c; Syntaxin-4; Carbachol
5.  Recent insights into the cellular mechanisms of acute pancreatitis 
In acute pancreatitis, initiating cellular events causing acinar cell injury includes co-localization of zymogens with lysosomal hydrolases, leading to premature enzyme activation and pathological exocytosis of zymogens into the interstitial space. This is followed by processes that accentuate cell injury; triggering acute inflammatory mediators, intensifying oxidative stress, compromising the microcirculation and activating a neurogenic feedback. Such localized events then progress to a systemic inflammatory response leading to multiorgan dysfunction syndrome with resulting high morbidity and mortality. The present review discusses some of the most recent insights into each of these cellular processes postulated to cause or propagate the process of acute pancreatitis, and also the role of alcohol and genetics.
PMCID: PMC2656626  PMID: 17225878
Alcoholic pancreatitis; Cholecystokinin; Exocytosis; Pancreatitis
6.  A Cytosolic Splice Variant of Cab45 Interacts with Munc18b and Impacts on Amylase Secretion by Pancreatic Acini 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(7):2473-2480.
We identified in a yeast two-hybrid screen the EF-hand Ca2+-binding protein Cab45 as an interaction partner of Munc18b. Although the full-length Cab45 resides in Golgi lumen, we characterize a cytosolic splice variant, Cab45b, expressed in pancreatic acini. Cab45b is shown to bind 45Ca2+, and, of its three EF-hand motifs, EF-hand 2 is demonstrated to be crucial for the ion binding. Cab45b is shown to interact with Munc18b in an in vitro assay, and this interaction is enhanced in the presence of Ca2+. In this assay, Cab45b also binds the Munc18a isoform in a Ca2+-dependent manner. The endogenous Cab45b in rat acini coimmunoprecipitates with Munc18b, syntaxin 2, and syntaxin 3, soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors with key roles in the Ca2+-triggered zymogen secretion. Furthermore, we show that Munc18b bound to syntaxin 3 recruits Cab45b onto the plasma membrane. Importantly, antibodies against Cab45b are shown to inhibit in a specific and dose-dependent manner the Ca2+-induced amylase release from streptolysin-O–permeabilized acini. The present study identifies Cab45b as a novel protein factor involved in the exocytosis of zymogens by pancreatic acini.
PMCID: PMC1924827  PMID: 17442889
7.  Relaxin prevents the development of severe acute pancreatitis 
AIM: To investigate the severity of acute pancreatitis (AP) is associated to the intensity of leukocyte activation, inflammatory up-regulation and microcirculatory disruption associated to ischemia-reperfusion injury. Microvascular integrity and inhibition of pro-inflammatory mediators are key-factors in the evolution of AP. Relaxin is an insulin-like hormone that has been attributed vasorelaxant properties via the nitric oxide pathway while behaving as a glucocorticoid receptor agonist.
METHODS: AP was induced by the bilio-pancreatic duct-outlet-exclusion closed-duodenal-loops model. Treatment with relaxin was done at different time-points. Nitric oxide synthase inhibition by L-NAME and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) blockage by mifepristone was considered. AP severity was assessed by biochemical and histopathological analyses.
RESULTS: Treatment with relaxin reduced serum amylase, lipase, C-reactive protein, IL-6, IL-10, hsp72, LDH and 8-isoprostane as well as pancreatic and lung myeloperoxidase. Acinar and fat necrosis, hemorrhage and neutrophil infiltrate were also decreased. ATP depletion and ADP/ATP ratio were reduced while caspases 2-3-8 and 9 activities were increased. L-NAME and mifepristone decreased the efficiency of relaxin.
CONCLUSION: Relaxin resulted beneficial in the treatment of AP combining the properties of a GR agonist while preserving the microcirculation and favoring apoptosis over necrosis.
PMCID: PMC4124288  PMID: 16570348
Acute pancreatitis; Relaxin; Nitric oxide; Glucocorticoid receptor; Necrosis; Apoptosis

Results 1-7 (7)