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J Clin Invest. 2007 Jun;117(6):1502-13. Epub 2007 May 24.

Constitutive IKK2 activation in acinar cells is sufficient to induce pancreatitis in vivo.

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Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Activation of the inhibitor of NF-kappaB kinase/NF-kappaB (IKK/NF-kappaB) system and expression of proinflammatory mediators are major events in acute pancreatitis. However, the in vivo consequences of IKK activation on the onset and progression of acute pancreatitis remain unclear. Therefore, we modulated IKK activity conditionally in pancreatic acinar cells. Transgenic mice expressing the reverse tetracycline-responsive transactivator (rtTA) gene under the control of the rat elastase promoter were generated to mediate acinar cell-specific expression of IKK2 alleles. Expression of dominant-negative IKK2 ameliorated cerulein-induced pancreatitis but did not affect activation of trypsin, an initial event in experimental pancreatitis. Notably, expression of constitutively active IKK2 was sufficient to induce acute pancreatitis. This acinar cell-specific phenotype included edema, cellular infiltrates, necrosis, and elevation of serum lipase levels as well as pancreatic fibrosis. IKK2 activation caused increased expression of known NF-kappaB target genes, including mediators of the inflammatory response such as TNF-alpha and ICAM-1. Indeed, inhibition of TNF-alpha activity identified this cytokine as an important effector of IKK2-induced pancreatitis. Our data identify the IKK/NF-kappaB pathway in acinar cells as being key to the development of experimental pancreatitis and the major factor in the inflammatory response typical of this disease.

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