Published online Feb 6, 2010. doi: 10.4292/wjgpt.v1.i1.3
Revised: January 11, 2010
Accepted: January 18, 2010
Published online: February 6, 2010
Alcohol abuse is a major cause of pancreatitis, a condition that can manifest as both acute necroinflammation and chronic damage (acinar atrophy and fibrosis). Pancreatic acinar cells can metabolize ethanol via the oxidative pathway, which generates acetaldehyde and involves the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase and possibly cytochrome P4502E1. Additionally, ethanol can be metabolized via a nonoxidative pathway involving fatty acid ethyl ester synthases. Metabolism of ethanol by acinar and other pancreatic cells and the consequent generation of toxic metabolites, are postulated to play an important role in the development of alcohol-related acute and chronic pancreatic injury. This current work will review some recent advances in the knowledge about ethanol actions on the exocrine pancreas and its relationship to inflammatory disease and cancer.