Background & aims: In pancreatitis, a key role has been attributed to the inappropriate conversion of trypsinogen to trypsin. Recently, two mutations of the cationic trypsinogen gene were found in families with hereditary pancreatitis. This study was conducted to determine the spectrum and frequency of cationic trypsinogen mutations in unrelated patients with idiopathic or hereditary chronic pancreatitis (CP).
Methods: DNA samples from 44 unrelated children and adolescents with CP (30 patients with idiopathic CP and 14 with hereditary CP) and from 56 family members were investigated. The cationic trypsinogen gene was screened for mutations by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and DNA sequencing.
Results: A mutation in the cationic trypsinogen gene was detected in 5 patients: in 2 patients with a family history of CP and in 3 patients with idiopathic CP. In 1 patient the formerly described R122H mutation was detected. In 4 patients a hitherto unknown mutation was found at the signal peptide cleavage site leading to an alanine to valine exchange in codon 16. The mutations were inherited in all cases. In 95 unrelated control individuals the A16V mutation was not found.
Conclusions: Heterozygosity for the A16V mutation is strongly associated with CP. These results indicate that a significant percentage of patients with idiopathic CP may have a genetic basis for their disorder; therefore, genetic testing should be included in the diagnostic evaluation of these patients.