Alcohol abuse is associated with both acute and chronic pancreatitis. Repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis or pancreatic injury may result in chronic pancreatitis. We investigated ethanol-induced pancreatic injury using a mouse model of binge ethanol exposure. Male C57BL/6 mice were exposed to ethanol intragastrically (5 g/kg, 25% ethanol w/v) daily for 10 days. Binge ethanol exposure caused pathological changes in pancreas demonstrated by tissue edema, acinar atrophy and moderate fibrosis. Ethanol caused both apoptotic and necrotic cell death which was demonstrated by the increase in active caspase-3, caspase-8, cleaved PARP, cleaved CK-18 and the secretion of high mobility group protein B1 (HMGB1). Ethanol altered the function of the pancreas which was indicated by altered levels of alpha-amylase, glucose and insulin. Ethanol exposure stimulated cell proliferation in the acini, suggesting an acinar regeneration. Ethanol caused pancreatic inflammation which was indicated by the induction of TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, MCP-1 and CCR2, and the increase of CD68 positive macrophages in the pancreas. Ethanol-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress was demonstrated by a significant increase in ATF6, CHOP, and the phosphorylation of PERK and eiF-2alpha. In addition, ethanol increased protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation and the expression of iNOS, indicating oxidative stress. Therefore, this paradigm of binge ethanol exposure caused a spectrum of tissue injury and cellular stress to the pancreas, offering a good model to study alcoholic pancreatitis.

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Published in Oncotarget, v. 7, no. 34, p. 54303-54316.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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This research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (AA017226 and AA015407). It is also supported in part by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research and Development [Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development: Merit Review (BX001721)].