Pancreatic dysfunction in cystic fibrosis occurs as a result of impairments in luminal pH, apical trafficking of zymogen granule membranes, and solubilization of secretory enzymes

Pancreas. 1996 Jan;12(1):1-9. doi: 10.1097/00006676-199601000-00001.


Recent progress in understanding the luminal biochemistry of regulated pancreatic exocrine secretion, including acid-base interactions between acinar and duct cells and pH-dependent processes that regulate membrane trafficking (endocytosis) at the apical plasma membrane, have led to the development of in vitro models of cystic fibrosis in the rat exocrine pancreas. Based on investigations in these model systems, a unifying hypothesis is presented that proposes that pancreatic dysfunction in cystic fibrosis occurs as a result of progressive acidification of the acinar and duct lumen, which leads to secondary defects in (i) apical trafficking of zymogen granule membranes and (ii) solubilization of secretory (pro)enzymes. By directly acidifying the pH of the acinar lumen in cholescystokinin-stimulated acini, the early cytological findings observed in cystic fibrosis, including (i) massive dilatation of the acinar lumen, (ii) decreased appearance of zymogen granules, (iii) loss of the apical pole of the acinar cell, and (iv) persistent aggregation of secretory (pro)enzymes released into the luminal space, have been reproduced in primary cultures of pancreatic tissue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocytosis
  • Enzyme Precursors / metabolism
  • Enzymes / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Pancreas / physiopathology


  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Enzymes