- 5 Feb 2024 9:53 AM
- Hungary Today
Chronic pancreatitis affects thousands of people in Hungary every year, causing cysts, calcifications and shrinkage of the pancreas, narrowing of the pancreatic ducts and bile duct, diabetes and pancreatic cancer. In addition to alcohol consumption, smoking also plays an important role in its development and is now recognized as one of the most important risk factors, writes Magyar Nemzet.
To further investigate the link between smoking and the disease, researchers from Semmelweis University, the University of Szeged and the University of Pécs studied the function of a protein, the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), whose activity is altered in patients with pancreatitis.
CFTR is a protein responsible for maintaining salt and water balance in many parts of the body, including the pancreas. If it is not functioning properly, the balance is destroyed, chloride (a component of salt) cannot escape from the cell and without movement, and water cannot hydrate the cell surface. The mucus covering the cells becomes thick and sticky and can block the pancreatic ducts.
To assess the function of CFTR, the researchers examined the chloride content of sweat from healthy and chronic pancreatitis (CP) patients (smokers and non-smokers).
Both healthy and sick smokers had higher chloride concentrations in their sweat samples compared to non-smokers, suggesting reduced CFTR function due to smoking. Smokers had lower CFTR activity in pancreatic tissue than non-smokers, regardless of the presence of disease.
The researchers also measured heavy metals in the blood and cadmium concentrations in tissues. Smokers’ blood levels of cadmium and mercury and pancreatic tissue cadmium were also elevated compared to non-smoking participants.
The research, the results of which were first presented by the authors on the closing day of the Semmelweis Symposium, shows that the damage caused by smoking is irreversible.
"The heavy metals in tobacco are irreversibly deposited in the pancreas, where they maintain a continuous inflammation,” stressed Péter Hegyi, Director of the Center for Translational Medicine at Semmelweis University, the last author of the study.
He added that the effects of alcohol are milder and reversible. In other words, small amounts of alcohol are not necessarily a problem, while smoking is. In addition to the above, further animal studies have demonstrated the association between tobacco smoke and reduced CTFR function, impaired pancreatic fluid formation and bicarbonate excretion in patients with pancreatitis.
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