Canadian scientists have made a significant progress in understanding how excessive alcohol consumption causes damage to the pancreas.
The research conducted by experts from the University of Toronto and University Health Network involved experiments on mice.
Lead researcher Herbert Gaisano says that several studies have shown previously that rodents fed on alcohol-rich diet, and then exposed to a drug called carbachol, develop an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which resembles the pancreatitis seen in individuals who consume an excessive amount of alcohol.
He also says that it has been suggested previously that the rodents develop pancreatitis because the alcohol and carbachol exposure cause cells in the pancreas to release vesicles containing degradative proteins known as enzymes at inappropriate places.
In the latest study, he adds, a protein called VAMP8 was found to have an important role in coordinating the inappropriate release of enzyme-containing vesicles in mice exposed to alcohol and carbachol.
According to Gaisano, mice lacking VAMP8 showed reduced pancreatitis after exposure to alcohol and carbachol, during the study.