Most attacks of acute pancreatitis display a self-limiting course. This suggests that pancreatic acinar cells may be able to protect themselves against cellular injury thus preventing further progression of the disease. In this review we describe several genes overexpressed in acute experimental pancreatitis which take part in the pancreatic stress response. We discuss the possible function of the pancreatitis-associated protein 1, the small nuclear protein p8, the glycoprotein clusterin, different heat shock proteins, the p53-dependent stress proteins TP53INP1α and TP53INP1β, the vacuole membrane protein-1, as well as the interferon-inducible protein-15, the antiproliferative p53-dependent protein PC3/TIS21/BTG2, and the pancreatitis-induced protein-49. The implications of these proteins in pathophysiological processes like apoptosis regulation, regeneration, cell cycle and growth control, regulation of inflammation, and vacuole formation are discussed. Study of the function of stress proteins expressed in response to pancreatitis could widen our understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease and enable us to develop new rational therapeutic strategies.
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