The changing face of the exocrine pancreas in cystic fibrosis: the correlation between pancreatic status, pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis genotype

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ObjectivesThe aims of this study were to determine the current pancreatic status of the entire cystic fibrosis (CF) population of Israel, to analyze the clinical characteristics of the pancreatic sufficient (PS) patients, and to characterize the correlation between pancreatic status, pancreatitis, and CF genotype.MethodsThe Israeli CF database includes 505 patients. These patients were defined as being PS or insufficient according to their fecal pancreatic elastase level or by coefficient fat absorption findings. Mutations were categorized as severe (ΔF508, W1282X, G542X, S549R, N1303K, Q359K/T360K, 405+1G, and 1717) or mild/variable (3849+10 kb, D1152H, G85E, I1234V, R334W, and 5T) based on disease severity in patients carrying these mutations. Age at diagnosis, presenting symptoms, sweat–chloride concentrations, occurrence of pancreatitis, presence of diabetes, and liver disease were recorded.ResultsOne hundred and thirty-nine (27.5%) of the CF patients were PS. None carried two mutations associated with severe disease. Over one third (34%) had normal or borderline sweat tests; 20 of these 139 patients had pancreatitis (14.3%) but none of the 366 pancreatic insufficient patients had it. Four initially PS patients became pancreatic insufficient: conversion followed several events of pancreatitis in three of them. Nasal potential differences were all pathological in 35 tested PS patients. None had either diabetes or liver disease.ConclusionsA substantial number of CF patients are PS. All of them carry at least one mild mutation enabling production of a sufficient amount of normal mRNA to maintain exocrine pancreatic function. Pancreatitis occurs only in CF patients who are PS. These patients are at risk of progressing to pancreatic insufficiency.

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