Lactoferrin is present in pancreatic juice, and greatly increased concentrations are found in the pancreatic juice of patients with chronic pancreatitis. It is not known whether these high levels of lactoferrin represent a genetically determined defect predisposing to the later development of chronic pancreatitis or are simply a consequence of the disease. In view of the morphological and functional similarities between the pancreatic and parotid glands, we have measured the immunoreactive lactoferrin concentration in pure parotid saliva of 30 patients with chronic calcific pancreatitis, 26 controls, 5 patients with proven pancreatic cancer, 2 patients with Sjögren’s disease and 2 patients with chronic recurrent parotitis. No difference in the lactoferrin concentration was detected between control subjects and patients with chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. Raised levels were found in the 4 patients with parotid gland disease. These findings suggest that increased lactoferrin secretion is confined to the exocrine pancreas in patients with chronic pancreatitis and is thus probably a phenomenon secondary to the disease.

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