Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic link between pancreatitis and alcohol consumption

November 12, 2012
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
A new study reveals a genetic link between chronic pancreatitis and alcohol consumption. Researchers 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.

A new study published online November 12 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.

Related Articles

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.

Collaborators on this study include Bernie Devlin, Ph.D., Adam Slivka, M.D., Ph.D., Dhiraj Yadav, M.D., M.P.H., Randall E. Brand, M.D., Vijay Singh, M.D., Alyssa M Krasinskas, M.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh; Jill P. Smith, M.D., of Pennsylvania State -- Hershey; John P. Neoptolemos, M.D., of the University of Liverpool; Markus M. Lerch, M.D., of the University of Greifswald; and others.

This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DK061451, DK054709, DK063922, MH057881, CA117926, UL1 RR024153 and UL1TR000005.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. David C Whitcomb, Jessica LaRusch, Alyssa M Krasinskas, Lambertus Klei, Jill P Smith, Randall E Brand, John P Neoptolemos, Markus M Lerch, Matt Tector, Bimaljit S Sandhu, Nalini M Guda, Lidiya Orlichenko, Marilyn S Albert, Roger L Albin, Liana G Apostolova, Steven E Arnold, Clinton T Baldwin, Robert Barber, Lisa L Barnes, Thomas G Beach, Gary W Beecham, Duane Beekly, David A Bennett, Eileen H Bigio, Thomas D Bird, Deborah Blacker, Adam Boxer, James R Burke, Joseph D Buxbaum, Nigel J Cairns, Laura B Cantwell, Chuanhai Cao, Regina M Carney, Steven L Carroll, Helena C Chui, David G Clark, David H Cribbs, Elizabeth A Crocco, Carlos Cruchaga, Charles DeCarli, F Yesim Demirci, Malcolm Dick, Dennis W Dickson, Ranjan Duara, Nilufer Ertekin-Taner, Kelley M Faber, Kenneth B Fallon, Martin R Farlow, Steven Ferris, Tatiana M Foroud, Matthew P Frosch, Douglas R Galasko, Mary Ganguli, Marla Gearing, Daniel H Geschwind, Bernardino Ghetti, John R Gilbert, Sid Gilman, Jonathan D Glass, Alison M Goate, Neill R Graff-Radford, Robert C Green, John H Growdon, Hakon Hakonarson, Kara L Hamilton-Nelson, Ronald L Hamilton, Lindy E Harrell, Elizabeth Head, Lawrence S Honig, Christine M Hulette, Bradley T Hyman, Gregory A Jicha, Lee-Way Jin, Gyungah Jun, M Ilyas Kamboh, Anna Karydas, Jeffrey A Kaye, Ronald Kim, Edward H Koo, Neil W Kowall, Joel H Kramer, Patricia Kramer, Walter A Kukull, Frank M LaFerla, James J Lah, James B Leverenz, Allan I Levey, Ge Li, Chiao-Feng Lin, Andrew P Lieberman, Oscar L Lopez, Kathryn L Lunetta, Constantine G Lyketsos, Wendy J Mack, Daniel C Marson, Eden R Martin, Frank Martiniuk, Deborah C Mash, Eliezer Masliah, Ann C McKee, Marsel Mesulam, Bruce L Miller, Carol A Miller, Joshua W Miller, Thomas J Montine, John C Morris, Jill R Murrell, Adam C Naj, John M Olichney, Joseph E Parisi, Elaine Peskind, Ronald C Petersen, Aimee Pierce, Wayne W Poon, Huntington Potter, Joseph F Quinn, Ashok Raj, Murray Raskind, Eric M Reiman, Barry Reisberg, Christiane Reitz, John M Ringman, Erik D Roberson, Howard J Rosen, Roger N Rosenberg, Mary Sano, Andrew J Saykin, Julie A Schneider, Lon S Schneider, William W Seeley, Amanda G Smith, Joshua A Sonnen, Salvatore Spina, Robert A Stern, Rudolph E Tanzi, John Q Trojanowski, Juan C Troncoso, Debby W Tsuang, Otto Valladares, Vivianna M Van Deerlin, Linda J Van Eldik, Badri N Vardarajan, Harry V Vinters, Jean Paul Vonsattel, Li-San Wang, Sandra Weintraub, Kathleen A Welsh-Bohmer, Jennifer Williamson, Randall L Woltjer, Clinton B Wright, Steven G Younkin, Chang-En Yu, Lei Yu, Samer Alkaade, Stephen T Amann, Michelle A Anderson, John Baillie, Peter A Banks, Darwin Conwell, Gregory A Coté, Peter B Cotton, James DiSario, Lindsay A Farrer, Chris E Forsmark, Marianne Johnstone, Timothy B Gardner, Andres Gelrud, William Greenhalf, Jonathan L Haines, Douglas J Hartman, Robert A Hawes, Christopher Lawrence, Michele Lewis, Julia Mayerle, Richard Mayeux, Nadine M Melhem, Mary E Money, Thiruvengadam Muniraj, Georgios I Papachristou, Margaret A Pericak-Vance, Joseph Romagnuolo, Gerard D Schellenberg, Stuart Sherman, Peter Simon, Vijay P Singh, Adam Slivka, Donna Stolz, Robert Sutton, Frank Ulrich Weiss, C Mel Wilcox, Narcis Octavian Zarnescu, Stephen R Wisniewski, Michael R O'Connell, Michelle L Kienholz, Kathryn Roeder, M Michael Barmada, Dhiraj Yadav, Bernie Devlin. Common genetic variants in the CLDN2 and PRSS1-PRSS2 loci alter risk for alcohol-related and sporadic pancreatitis. Nature Genetics, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/ng.2466

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Genetic link between pancreatitis and alcohol consumption." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112135520.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2012, November 12). Genetic link between pancreatitis and alcohol consumption. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112135520.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Genetic link between pancreatitis and alcohol consumption." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112135520.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) — Much of the Disneyland measles outbreak is being blamed on the anti-vaccination movement. The CDC encourages just about everyone get immunized. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — Public health officials are rushing to contain a measles outbreak that has sickened 70 people across 6 states and Mexico. The AP&apos;s Raquel Maria Dillon has more. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Is What It's Like To Date A Med Student

This Is What It's Like To Date A Med Student

BuzzFeed (Jan. 23, 2015) — Dating is now speed-dating... or studying. Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins