Influence of high-dose pancreatic enzyme treatment on pancreatic function in healthy volunteers

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Abstract

Conclusions.

Adaptive changes in exocrine and endocrine pancreatic function, as well as changes in pancreas size and morphology, were not observed after 4 wk of oral pancreatic enzyme application. These findings suggest that the normal pancreas does not significantly adapt—either morphologically or functionally—to a 4-wk oral application of high-dose pancreatic enzymes.

Background.

The control of exocrine pancreatic enzyme secretion is not completely understood. Although it has been established that exocrine pancreatic secretion is mainly regulated in the short-term by the amount of pancreatic enzymes in the proximal small intestine, it is not known whether long-term application of pancreatic enzymes causes changes in exocrine pancreatic secretion in humans.

Methods.

Twelve healthy male volunteers (median age 27 yr) participated in a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Six were placed in the treatment group and six in the placebo group. Over a 4-wk period, the six subjects in the treatment group took 18 capsules of Panzytrat (20,000 units of lipase, 18,000 units of amylase, and 1000 units of protease per capsule) daily. Before (wk 0), 4 wk following pancreatic enzyme application and 2 wk afterward, a secretin-cerulein test was carried out in all subjects to study exocrine pancreatic function (trypsin, chymotrypsin, bicarbonate content, and total pancreatic fluid secretion in the duodenum). One day following the secretin-cerulein test, a standard test meal was given to all subjects to analyze endocrine pancreatic function. Additionally, before starting the treatment, once per week during treatment and 2 wk afterward, an ultrasound examination of the pancreas was carried out to see whether there was any change in pancreas size and morphology.

Results.

Trypsin content in the duodenal aspirates following simultaneous stimulation with secretin and cerulein after 4 wk of high-dose pancreatic enzyme application was 92% in the treatment group and 82% in the placebo group compared with the wk 0 test results (100%). Two weeks after enzyme application, the secretin/cerulein-stimulated trypsin content was 88% in the treatment group and 107% in the placebo group. None of these changes was statistically significant. The same results were seen for chymotrypsin content, amylase, and bicarbonate content as well as for total pancreatic fluid secretion. Additionally, no change in the endocrine pancreatic function could be observed after 4 wk of pancreatic enzyme treatment. Pancreas ultrasonography revealed no alteration in pancreas size or parenchymal structure during the 4 wk of treatment and the following 2 wk.

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