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Serine protease inhibitor Kazal type 1 (SPINK1) provides an important line of defense against premature trypsinogen activation within the pancreas. Our aim was to identify pathogenic SPINK1 promoter variants associated with chronic pancreatitis (CP).One hundred CP patients (cases) and 100 controls with no pancreatic disease from the Hungarian National Pancreas Registry were enrolled. Direct sequencing of SPINK1 promoter region was performed. Functional characterization of variants was carried out using luciferase reporter gene assay.Two common polymorphisms (c.-253T>C and c.-807C>T) were found in both cases and controls. Variant c.253T>C was enriched in cases relative to controls (odds ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-3.8; P = 0.015). Variant c.-215G>A was detected in 3 of 100 cases; always linked with the pathogenic variant c.194+2T>C. Novel promoter variants c.-14G>A, c.-108G>T, and c.-246A>G were identified in 1 case each. Functional analysis showed decreased promoter activity for variants c.-14G>A (80%), c.-108G>T (31%), and c.-246A>G (47%) whereas activity of variant c.-215G>A was increased (201%) and variant c.-253T>C was unchanged compared with wild type.The common promoter variant c.-253T>C was associated with CP in this cohort. Two of 3 newly identified SPINK1 promoter variants seem to exhibit significant functional defects and should be considered potential risk factors for CP.