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Association of cathepsin B gene polymorphisms with tropical calcific pancreatitis
  1. S Mahurkar1,
  2. M M Idris1,
  3. D N Reddy2,
  4. S Bhaskar1,
  5. G V Rao2,
  6. V Thomas3,
  7. L Singh1,
  8. G R Chandak1
  1. 1Genome Research Group, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India
  2. 2Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Punjagutta, Hyderabad, India
  3. 3Department of Gastroenterology, Medical College, Calicut, India
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr G R Chandak
    Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Uppal Road, Hyderabad 500 007, India; chandakgrc{at}


Background and aims: Tropical calcific pancreatitis (TCP) is a type of chronic pancreatitis unique to countries in the tropics. Mutations in pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (SPINK1) rather than cationic trypsinogen (PRSS1) explain the disease in only 50% of TCP patients. As cathepsin B (CTSB) is known to activate cationic trypsinogen, we attempted to understand the role of CTSB mutations in TCP. Evidence of epistatic interaction was investigated with the previously associated N34S SPINK1 allele, a variant considered to be a modifier rather than a true susceptibility allele.

Subjects and methods: We sequenced the coding region of CTSB gene in 51 TCP patients and 25 controls and further genotyped 89 patients and 130 controls from the same cohort for Leu26Val, C595T, T663C, and Ser53Gly polymorphisms. The positive findings observed in the earlier cohort were re-examined in an ethnically matched replication cohort comprising 166 patients and 175 controls. Appropriate statistical analyses were performed and Bonferroni correction for multiple testing was applied.

Results: We found a statistically significant association of the Val26 allele at Leu26Val polymorphism with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.15 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.60–2.90 (p = 0.009)), after Bonferroni correction (corrected p value = 0.025). This significant association of Leu26Val with TCP was replicated in another cohort (OR 2.10 (95% CI 1.56–2.84); p = 0.013). Val26 allele also showed significantly higher frequency in N34S positive and N34S negative patients than in controls (p = 0.019 and 0.013, respectively). We also found significant differences in the mutant allele frequencies at Ser53Gly and C595T single nucleotide polymorphisms between N34S positive patients and controls (p = 0.008 and 0.001, respectively). Although haplotype analysis did not complement the results of allelic association, it did uncover a unique haplotype protective for TCP (p = 0.0035).

Conclusion: Our study suggests for the first time that CTSB polymorphisms are associated with TCP. As PRSS1 mutations are absent in TCP and the N34S SPINK1 mutation is proposed to play a modifier role, these variants may be critical as a trigger for cationic trypsinogen activation.

  • CTSB, cathepsin B
  • Gly, glycine
  • Leu, leucine
  • pcorr, corrected p value
  • pobs, observed p value
  • PRSS1, protease, serine, 1 (trypsin 1)
  • PRSS3, protease, serine, 3 (trypsin 3)
  • Ser, serine
  • SNP(s), single nucleotide polymorphism(s)
  • SPINK1, serine protease inhibitor, Kazal type I
  • TCP, tropical calcific pancreatitis
  • Thr, threonine
  • UTR, untranslated region
  • Val, valine
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • tropical calcific pancreatitis
  • pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor
  • N34S SPINK1 mutation
  • cathepsin B
  • polymorphisms

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  • Published online first 21 February 2006

  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

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