Corticosteroids prevent the progression of autoimmune pancreatitis to chronic pancreatitis

Pancreatology. 2020 Sep;20(6):1062-1068. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2020.07.408. Epub 2020 Aug 1.


Background/objectives: Patients with autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) sometimes progress to chronic pancreatitis (CP). We evaluated the ability of corticosteroids to prevent the progression to CP.

Methods: We defined patients with definitive findings of CP (stones in the main pancreatic duct [MPD] or multiple pancreatic calcifications) as having severe calcification (SC). A total of 145 AIP patients were enrolled. We measured the duration between AIP diagnosis and SC development and retrospectively compared the time to SC development between patients with and without steroids. Multivariate analysis for factors associated with SC were performed.

Results: Nineteen (13%) patients progressed to SC. Since 95 patients had pancreatic head swelling and SC was found in these patients only, our analysis focused mainly on these at-risk populations. In Kaplan-Meier analysis limited to patients with pancreatic head swelling, the incidence of SC was significantly lower in patients with steroids than in those without (hazard ratio [HR] 0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.07-0.52; p < 0.001). Multivariate testing of patients with pancreatic head swelling confirmed that steroid therapy was significantly associated with a lower incidence of SC (HR 0.11, 95% CI 0.03-0.34; p < 0.001), while MPD dilation at AIP diagnosis was related to a higher incidence of SC (HR 4.02, 95% CI 1.43-11.7; p = 0.009).

Conclusions: Corticosteroids appeared to prevent progression to CP in AIP patients, especially in those with pancreatic head swelling. Patients with both pancreatic head swelling and MPD dilation at diagnosis have a higher incidence of progression to CP. Steroid therapy is suggested for these high-risk cases.

Keywords: Autoimmune pancreatitis; Chronic pancreatitis; Pancreatic calcification; Steroid therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autoimmune Pancreatitis / drug therapy*
  • Calcinosis / drug therapy
  • Calcinosis / etiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Ducts
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones