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Open Access Review

Animal models for investigating chronic pancreatitis

Alexander A Aghdassi, Julia Mayerle, Sandra Christochowitz, Frank U Weiss, Matthias Sendler and Markus M Lerch*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine A, University Medicine, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany

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Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair 2011, 4:26  doi:10.1186/1755-1536-4-26

Published: 1 December 2011

Abstract

Chronic pancreatitis is defined as a continuous or recurrent inflammatory disease of the pancreas characterized by progressive and irreversible morphological changes. It typically causes pain and permanent impairment of pancreatic function. In chronic pancreatitis areas of focal necrosis are followed by perilobular and intralobular fibrosis of the parenchyma, by stone formation in the pancreatic duct, calcifications in the parenchyma as well as the formation of pseudocysts. Late in the course of the disease a progressive loss of endocrine and exocrine function occurs. Despite advances in understanding the pathogenesis no causal treatment for chronic pancreatitis is presently available. Thus, there is a need for well characterized animal models for further investigations that allow translation to the human situation. This review summarizes existing experimental models and distinguishes them according to the type of pathological stimulus used for induction of pancreatitis. There is a special focus on pancreatic duct ligation, repetitive overstimulation with caerulein and chronic alcohol feeding. Secondly, attention is drawn to genetic models that have recently been generated and which mimic features of chronic pancreatitis in man. Each technique will be supplemented with data on the pathophysiological background of the model and their limitations will be discussed.