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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Intracellular vacuoles in experimental acute pancreatitis in rats and mice are an acidified compartment.

The appearance of vacuoles inside acinar cells characterizes an early stage of development in different models of acute pancreatitis and, possibly, also in human disease. The vacuoles have been shown to contain both digestive and lysosomal enzymes. This abnormal admixture may have important implications for the pathogenesis of pancreatitis because the lysosomal enzyme cathepsin B can activate trypsinogen and may, by this way, trigger pancreatic autodigestion. For the activation process of trypsinogen by cathepsin B, however, an acidic pH is required. This study, therefore, looked for evidence of vacuole acidification in two different models of acute pancreatitis. Edematous pancreatitis was induced in rats by hyperstimulation with cerulein and hemorrhagic pancreatitis was induced in mice by feeding a choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented diet. Pancreatic acinar cells were isolated at different times after induction of pancreatitis and incubated with 50 microM of acridine orange to identify acidic intracellular compartments. As shown in previous work, zymogen granules are the main acidic compartment of normal acinar cells; they remained acidic throughout the course of pancreatitis in both models. Vacuoles became increasingly more frequent in both models as pancreatitis progressed. Throughout development of pancreatitis, vacuoles accumulated acridine orange indicating an acidic interior. Addition of a protonophore (10 microM monensin or 5 microM carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone [CCCP] or a weak base (5 mM NH4Cl) completely and rapidly abolished acridine orange fluorescence inside both zymogen granules and vacuoles providing further evidence for an acidic interior. The acidification of vacuoles seen in two different models of pancreatitis may be an important requirement for activation of trypsinogen by cathepsin B and thus for the development of acute pancreatitis.[1]


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