Background & aims: Tropical calcific pancreatitis (TCP) is a chronic pancreatitis unique to developing countries in tropical regions. The cause of TCP is obscure. Whereas environmental factors, such as protein energy malnutrition and ingestion of cassava, have been implicated, a genetic predisposition to the disease also may be important. In the present study we report on mutations in the serine protease inhibitor, Kazal type 1 (SPINK1) gene in north Indian patients with TCP.
Methods: We studied 66 unrelated TCP patients (44 men, 49 with diabetes, and 6 with family history of TCP), 25 relatives, and 92 healthy control subjects. Samples were analyzed for SPINK1 variants (-53C>T, L14P, N34S, P55S, and 272T>C) and cationic trypsinogen (PRSS1) variants (A16V, K23R, N29I, and R122H) by melting curve analysis.
Results: Twenty-nine patients (44%) carried the N34S missense mutation, of whom 9 (14%) were homozygotes. In contrast, only 2 (2.2%) control subjects were N34S heterozygotes (prevalence ratio 20.2; 95% confidence interval 5.0-81.8; P < 0.0001 vs. TCP). The severity of pancreatitis did not differ between TCP patients with or without N34S, or among those heterozygous or homozygous for N34S. Among TCP patients with or without diabetes, the frequency of N34S carriers (43% vs. 47%) and N34S homozygotes (14% vs. 12%) was similar.
Conclusions: TCP is highly associated with the SPINK1 N34S mutation. The high prevalence of N34S in TCP patients with and without diabetes suggests that these 2 subtypes have a similar genetic predisposition. The genetic predisposition to TCP resembles, at least in part, the idiopathic chronic pancreatitis found in industrialized countries.