Impaired secretion of lithostathine, a pancreatic glycoprotein capable of inhibiting the growth of CaCO3 crystals, has been reported in chronic calcifying pancreatitis. Controversial results were obtained, however, using immunoassays with different antibodies. The aim of this study was to purify and to measure juice lithostathine by a non-immunological method. Fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) on a cation exchange column eluted by a sodium chloride gradient, was used. The conditions appropriate to separate secretory (S) from hydrolysed (H) isoforms of immunopurified lithostathine were also used for juice analysis. Pancreatic juice was collected by endoscopic cannulation of the major pancreatic duct, after secretin stimulation, from eight patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP) and from eight controls. In all samples, S-isoforms of lithostathine (ranging from 16 to 19 Mr at SDS-PAGE) were the only constituent of two of the 15 peaks in which FPLC resolved the pancreatic proteins. The nature of these two peaks was confirmed by their coelution with immunopurified S-lithostathine and by immunoblot analysis with polyclonal anti-lithostathine antibodies. The ratio between the area of S-lithostathine peaks and the total area of proteic eluates, was always lower in CP patients (5.3 micrograms/mg of protein, median value; 0.2-15.4, range) than in controls (35.2 micrograms/mg; 16.6-55.9). It is concluded that lithostathine can be purified and measured in pancreatic juice by FPLC. Our results with a nonimmunological assay confirm a reduced secretion of lithostathine in patients with CP.
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