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Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Jan;3(1):99-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2016.09.009.

Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Kinase Activity Maintains Acinar-to-Ductal Metaplasia and Is Required for Organ Regeneration in Pancreatitis.

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Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.



Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling in the exocrine pancreas has been extensively studied in the context of pancreatic cancer, where its potential as a therapeutic target is limited by acquired drug resistance. However, its role in pancreatitis is less understood. We investigated the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)-initiated MAPK signaling in pancreatitis to determine the potential for MEK inhibition in treating pancreatitis patients.


To examine the role of MEK signaling in pancreatitis, we used both genetic and pharmacologic approaches to inhibit the MAPK signaling pathway in a murine model of cerulein-induced pancreatitis. We generated mice harboring inducible short hairpins targeting the MEK isoforms Map2k1 and/or Map2k2 specifically in the pancreatic epithelium. We also used the MEK inhibitor trametinib to determine the efficacy of systemic inhibition in mice with pancreatitis.


We demonstrated an essential role for MEK signaling in the initiation of pancreatitis. We showed that both systemic and parenchyma-specific MEK inhibition in established pancreatitis induces epithelial differentiation and stromal remodeling. However, systemic MEK inhibition also leads to a loss of the proliferative capacity of the pancreas, preventing the restoration of organ mass.


MEK activity is required for the initiation and maintenance of pancreatitis. MEK inhibition may be useful in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis to interrupt the vicious cycle of destruction and repair but at the expense of organ regeneration.


ADM; Inflammation; Tissue Regeneration; Wound Healing

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