SPINK1 mutations and risk of pancreatic cancer in a Chinese cohort

Pancreatology. 2021 Aug;21(5):848-853. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2021.05.304. Epub 2021 Jun 5.


Objective: The relationship between SPINK1 and pancreatic cancer (PC) remains controversial. The current study aimed to determine the effect of SPINK1 mutations on PC development among patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP).

Methods: This is a prospective observational study including a large cohort of 965 CP patients with 11-year follow-up. Patients' demographic characteristics and clinical CP outcomes were documented in detail. Genetic testing was performed. The effect of SPINK1 mutations on the clinical development of PC was explored using Cox proportional hazards regression. Subgroup analyses conducted included the consideration of gender, onset age of CP (early- and late-onset), etiologies of CP, smoking, and alcoholic drinking status.

Results: PC was diagnosed in 2.5% (24/965) of patients, and the cumulative incidence rates were 0.2%, 0.8%, and 1.5% at 3, 5, and 10 years since the onset of CP, respectively. In this cohort, SPINK1 c.194+2T > C was the most common variant with a proportion of 39.1%. And the risk of PC development varied marginally between patients with and without SPINK1 mutations (Cox HR 0.39(0.14-1.04), P = 0.059). In the subgroup analyses, patients carrying SPINK1 mutations had a significantly lower risk of PC (Cox HR 0.18(0.04-0.80), P = 0.025) in the non-smoking group. SPINK1 mutations showed no significant effect in the other subgroups considered.

Conclusions: CP patients harboring SPINK1 mutations do not have an elevated risk of PC development compared to mutation-negative CP patients. On the contrary, SPINK1 mutations may be a protective factor in non-smoking patients with CP.

Keywords: Chronic pancreatitis; Pancreatic cancer; SPINK1 mutations; Smoking.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • China / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / genetics
  • Trypsin Inhibitor, Kazal Pancreatic / genetics*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • SPINK1 protein, human
  • Trypsin Inhibitor, Kazal Pancreatic

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma