Mechanism of acute pancreatitis

Cellular and subcellular events
  • Sebastian Willemer
  • Guido Adler


A membrane-bound system through which secretory and lysosomal proteins travel in a vectorial fashion is essential for the preserved integrity of pancreatic acinar cells. This system is composed of an ordered array of compartments, such as the rough endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi complex, lysosomes, and secretory granules. As a principle, in acute pancreatitis the final steps of this transport seem to be disturbed. Caerulein-induced pancreatitis is a valuable experimental model for studying altered intracellular transport, and compartmentation of lysosomal and digestive enzymes. The formation of enlarged secretory vacuoles containing lysosomal and digestive enzymes is paralleled by the activation of lysosomes and degradation of cellular organelles in autophagosomes. On the level of secretory and autophagic vacuoles, activation of serine proteases occurs, which in addition to increasing lysosomal enzyme activities can represent the initial stage for acinar cell destruction and the development of pancreatitis.

Key Words

Acute pancreatitis lysosomal enyzmes proteases autophagic vacuoles 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Willemer
    • 1
  • Guido Adler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicinePhilipps University MarburgFRG

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