The role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis

Am J Surg. 1998 Jan;175(1):76-83. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(97)00240-7.


Background: The systemic manifestations of acute pancreatitis are responsible for the majority of pancreatitis-associated morbidity and mortality and are now believed to be due to the actions of specific inflammatory cytokines. This report summarizes what is known about the role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis.

Methods: Comprehensive literature review of experimental pancreatitis as well as all reports of cytokine involvement during clinical pancreatitis.

Results: Several cytokines and other noncytokine inflammatory mediators are produced rapidly during pancreatitis. These mediators arise in many tissues in a predictable fashion independent of the animal model used or the underlying etiology in human disease. Preventing the activities of these mediators has a profound beneficial effect in experimental animals.

Conclusions: A few recently described inflammatory mediators are believed to be primarily responsible for the systemic manifestations of acute pancreatitis and its associated distant organ dysfunction. The predictable nature in which they are produced may allow for novel approaches to treating this disease. Am J Surg.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Apoptosis
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokines / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Interleukin-1 / physiology
  • Interleukins / physiology
  • Pancreatitis / etiology*
  • Pancreatitis / mortality
  • Pancreatitis / therapy
  • Rabbits
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / etiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha