Release of digestive enzymes in the pancreas induces inflammation and fibrosis, collectively known as pancreatitis. Autophagy is a recycling mechanism targeting cellular organelles and proteins. Defective autophagy in mouse models leads gender-dependently to the full-blown clinical picture of chronic pancreatitis corresponding as well to the epidemiological accumulation seen in males. Preliminary work revealed a connection between autophagy and sexual hormones. Interestingly, experimental castration of autophagy-deficient male mice could prevent the development of chronic pancreatitis. Aim of the project is to mechanistically uncover the autophagy-sexual hormone interplay in chronic pancreatitis and set the stepping-stones for disease prevention and new therapies.
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