Scientists have previously found that alcohol can trigger the condition by combining with fatty acids in the pancreas, which leads to an excessive release of stored calcium ions. Once calcium ions enter cell fluid in the pancreas it activates digestive enzymes and damages the cells.
The team, in collaboration with the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan, have now identified channels within special stores that allow calcium to enter the fluid inside pancreatic cells. They have also found that toxic calcium release can be significantly reduced if the gene responsible for the production of these channels is 'deleted' (or knocked-out).
Professor Ole Petersen, from the University's School of Biomedical Sciences, explains: "The pancreas releases enzymes into the gut, where they become activated and digest our food. When these digestive enzymes are activated inside the cells, however, they start to digest the pancreas itself, causing serious damage and often death. Alcohol is widely recognised as one of the triggers for this process, but the reasons behind it have been unclear.
"We now know that alcohol, in combination with fatty acids, can produce substances that cause an excessive increase in calcium ions in the pancreatic cell water. We have found that this excessive build-up is caused by the movement of calcium ions from special calcium stores into the cell water, which activate digestive enzymes from within the cell. Our new research identifies the channels through which calcium movement occurs and importantly the genes which are responsible for the production of these channels.
"This work highlights the dangers of excessive drinking; the higher the levels of alcohol in the blood, the higher the risk of pancreatitis. Now that we have identified the genes that can control the condition, we should be able to develop more successful treatments for the disease."
The research is supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
1. The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £93 million annually.
2. The RIKEN Brain Science Institute engages in interdisciplinary and synergetic research. The Institute integrates various disciplines such as medicine, biology, physics, technology, information science, mathematical science, and psychology. Their research objectives include individual organisms, behaviour, microscopic molecular structures of the brain, neurons, neurocircuits, cognition, memory, learning, language acquisition, and robotics.
Samantha Martin | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering