Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
While alcohol abuse and biliary disease can result in the development of pancreatitis, the factors that contribute to the idiopathic form of the disease are not well understood. I propose that coxsackievirus infections account for a subset of cases of pancreatitis of unknown etiology. Evidence to support this concept is derived from serological studies, case reports and animal models. In reviewing the available data, it is obvious that the relationship between coxsackievirus infection and the development of pancreatitis is not a simple one. Many elements contribute to the development of the disease including the strain of the infecting virus, the genetic predisposition of the host and additional environmental factors that maintain the disease process. Studies that show an association between coxsackievirus infection and acute pancreatitis in humans are given additional support by the extensive data from mouse studies demonstrating that some serotypes (B4,B3) are tropic for the exocrine pancreas. Some viral strains may cause limited pancreatic tissue injury which is compatible with tissue repair followed by full restoration of pancreatic function. Other viral strains may cause more extensive tissue damage giving rise to chronic pancreatitis which, on a genetic background that predisposes to autoimmunity, may result in an autoimmune chronic pancreatitis. A multi-disciplinary approach is required to increase our understanding of the complex relationship between coxsackievirus infection and pancreatic diseases. Such studies should address the biology of viral replication, the immune response to infection, the role of viruses in the development of autoimmunity, the biology of pancreatic tissue injury and the underlying repair process.