Objective: Our aim was to perform a cross-sectional study to estimate the prevalence of elevated pancreatic enzymes in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and to correlate the enzyme activities with clinical, endoscopic, and histological findings.
Methods: Two hundred thirty-seven patients diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including a subgroup with known hepatobiliary disease, were studied crosssectionally. Serum and urinary pancreatic enzymes were prospectively sampled and compared to endoscopic and histological findings obtained previously.
Results: Hyperamylasemia was found in 11% and hyperlipasemia in 7% of the total study group. The corresponding prevalences in patients with Crohn's disease were 17% and 9%, those in ulcerative colitis 9% and 7%, and those in indeterminate colitis 10% and 5%, respectively. High levels of serum amylase and pancreatic isoamylase were associated with extensive colonic disease (p < 0.005) and high histological activity (p < 0.05). Amylase, but not lipase, was significantly elevated in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis. Smokers showed higher urinary amylase levels than non- and ex-smokers. The use of medication had no influence on the enzyme levels.
Conclusions: Pancreatic enzymes are elevated in a significant proportion of patients with IBD, and the enzyme increase is associated with a more extensive and active disease, and in some cases with primary sclerosing cholangitis.