Chronic pancreatitis is the end stage of a pathologic inflammatory syndrome with multiple etiological factors, including genetic. We hypothesized that some pancreatitis etiology originates in pancreatic acinar or duct cells and requires both injury and compensatory mechanism failure.
One hundred pancreatitis patients were assessed using a DNA sequencing panel for pancreatitis. Cooccurrence of variants within and between genes was measured. Gene coexpression was confirmed via published single-cell RNA sequencing.
One hundred and twenty-one variants were identified in 2 or more patients, 15 of which were enriched compared with reference populations. Single cell RNA-sequencing data verified coexpression of GGT1, CFTR, and PRSS1 in duct cells, PRSS1, CPA1, CEL, CTRC, and SPINK1 in acinar cells, and UBR1 in both. Multiple-risk variants with injury/stress effects (CEL, CFTR, CPA1, PRSS1) and impaired cell protection (CTRC, GGT1, SPINK1, UBR1) cooccur within duct cells, acinar cells, or both.
Pancreatitis is a complex disorder with genetic interactions across genes and cell types. These findings suggest a new, non-Mendelian genetic risk/etiology paradigm where a combination of nonpathogenic genetic risk variants in groups of susceptibility genes and injury/dysfunction response genes contribute to acquired pancreatic disease.