Objectives: Recurrent acute pancreatitis (RAP) is a complex inflammatory disorder that may progress to fibrosis and other irreversible features recognized as chronic pancreatitis (CP). Chymotrypsinogen C (CTRC) protects the pancreas by degrading prematurely activated trypsinogen. Rare mutations are associated with CP in Europe and Asia. We evaluated the occurrence of CTRC variants in subjects with RAP, CP, and controls from the North American Pancreatitis Study II cohort.
Methods: CP (n=694), RAP (n=448), and controls (n=1017) of European ancestry were evaluated. Subgroup analysis included CFTR and SPINK1 variants, alcohol, and smoking.
Results: We identified previously reported rare pathogenic CTRC A73T, R254W, and K247_R254del variants, intronic variants, and G60G (c.180 C>T; rs497078). Compared with controls (minor allele frequency (MAF)=10.8%), c.180T was associated with CP (MAF=16.8%, P<0.00001) but not RAP (MAF=11.9% P=NS). Trend test indicated co-dominant risk for CP (CT odds ratio (OR)=1.36, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.13-1.64, P=0.0014; TT OR=3.98, 95% CI=2.10-7.56, P<0.0001). The T allele was significantly more frequent with concurrent pathogenic CFTR variants and/or SPINK1 N34S (combined 22.9% vs. 16.1%, OR 1.92, 95% C.I. 1.26-2.94, P=0.0023) and with alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic CP etiologies (20.8% vs. 12.4%, OR=1.9, 95% CI=1.30-2.79, P=0.0009). Alcohol and smoking generally occurred together, but the frequency of CTRC c.180 T in CP, but not RAP, was higher among never drinkers-ever smokers (22.2%) than ever drinker-never smokers (10.8%), suggesting that smoking rather than alcohol may be the driving factor in this association.
Conclusions: The common CTRC variant c.180T acts as disease modifier that promotes progression from RAP to CP, especially in patients with CFTR or SPINK1 variants, alcohol, or smoking.