Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Public Health



First Advisor

Dr. Karin Westlund High

Second Advisor

Dr. John F. Watkins


Homeodynamic space (HDS) shrinks as vulnerability increases with aging and repeated damage to the cells. HDS is lost in alcoholic pancreatitis patients due to overconsumption of alcohol, smoking, and high fat diets. Etiologically relevant animal models for study of chronic pancreatitis (CP) are needed. In order to begin filling this gap a central purpose of this dissertation research was to examine relationships between the alcohol and high fat diet (AHF) and pancreatitis with attention to hypersensitivity and anxiety-like behaviors. The AHF diet induced pancreatitis described here etiologically mimics human risk factors of AHF consumption for advancement to alcoholic CP.

In this study one group of mice was fed long term with a diet of high fat and alcohol for comparison with a group fed normal chow. Mice consumed a liquid diet containing 6% alcohol and a high fat supplement ad libitum over a period of five months. Each group was evaluated for heat and mechanical hypersensitivity, and histology indicative of CP.

The association of pancreatitis pathology with anxiety has been understudied. Anxiety, like pain, is useful as a transient state but when anxiety is prolonged it is termed a disorder. Anxiety is often comorbid with pain and depression. Therefore, it is important to determine anxiety in mice with CP histology.

This model was characterized for the interaction of pancreatitis histology, as well as persisting pain-, anxiety-, and fear-like behaviors. The AHF diet mice developed hypersensitivity, demonstrated anxiety-like behaviors, and showed concurrent histology consistent with CP. Nontransgenic mouse models where pancreatitis is induced only by a combination of ad libitum liquid food with added alcohol and lard supplementation do not currently exist, nor has an in-depth study of anxiety-like behaviors been conducted in this mouse model. This dissertation research addresses this knowledge gap.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)