Presence of cathepsin B in the human pancreatic secretory pathway and its role in trypsinogen activation during hereditary pancreatitis

Zoltán Kukor, Julia Mayerle, Burkhard Krüger, Miklós Tóth, Paul M. Steed, Walter Halangk, Markus M. Lerch, Miklós Sahin-Tóth

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The lysosomal cysteine protease cathepsin B is thought to play a central role in intrapancreatic trypsinogen activation and the onset of experimental pancreatitis. Recent in vitro studies have suggested that this mechanism might be of pathophysiological relevance in hereditary pancreatitis, a human inborn disorder associated with mutations in the cationic trypsinogen gene. In the present study evidence is presented that cathepsin B is abundantly present in the secretory compartment of the human exocrine pancreas, as judged by immunogold electron microscopy. Moreover, pro-cathepsin B and mature cathepsin B are both secreted together with trypsinogen and active trypsin into the pancreatic juice of patients with sporadic pancreatitis or hereditary pancreatitis. Finally, cathepsin B-catalyzed activation of recombinant human cationic trypsinogen with hereditary pancreatitis-associated mutations N29I, N29T, or R122H were characterized. In contrast to a previous report, cathepsin B-mediated activation of wild type and all three mutant trypsinogen forms was essentially identical under a wide range of experimental conditions. These observations confirm the presence of active cathepsin B in the human pancreatic secretory pathway and are consistent with the notion that cathepsin B-mediated trypsinogen activation might play a pathogenic role in human pancreatitis. On the other hand, the results clearly demonstrate that hereditary pancreatitis-associated mutations do not lead to increased or decreased trypsinogen activation by cathepsin B. Therefore, mutation-dependent alterations in cathepsin B-induced trypsinogen activation are not the cause of hereditary pancreatitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21389-21396
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Jun 14 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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