Inhibition of endogenous pancreatic enzyme secretion by oral pancreatic enzyme treatment

Eur J Clin Invest. 2003 Jan;33(1):65-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2362.2003.01077.x.


Background: The existence of a feedback mechanism for exocrine pancreatic secretion in humans is controversial. Exclusion of proteases from the duodenum stimulates exocrine pancreatic secretion. Conversely, addition of exogenous enzymes could reduce the enzyme secretion. Further investigation of the feedback mechanism should be performed under the most physiological conditions. In the present study we investigated exocrine pancreatic function by measuring fecal enzyme output in healthy volunteers consuming a normal diet, before and during a time course of exogenous pancreatic enzyme supplementation.

Material and methods: Twenty-five healthy subjects (HS) were given two different doses (30 and 60 FIP proteases kg(-1) d(-1)) divided by the number of meals. In all subjects, fecal elastase-1 (E1) concentrations and chymotrypsin (ChT) activities were measured without and with enzyme supplements after 7 days of treatment. In eight subjects, E1 concentrations and ChT activities were measured daily for 10 consecutive days. The subjects were given a dose regimen of 100 FIP proteases kg(-1) d(-1)(divided by the number of meals) for the first 7 days.

Results: Oral pancreatic treatment dose-dependently inhibited endogenous pancreatic secretion measured with the use of E1 concentrations. In both regimen groups, the differences were statistically significant. The exogenous enzymes, which interfere with colorimetric method for ChT, dose-dependently increased ChT output. However, only the higher dose resulted in a statistically significant difference. In the subgroup of eight HS, time-dependent changes of fecal enzyme output occurred with a decrease of E1 concentrations and an increase of ChT activity from the second up to eighth or ninth day of the experiment.

Conclusion: Exogenous applied pancreatic enzymes, dose- and time-dependently inhibited endogenous pancreatic secretion. The obtained results strongly support the existence of a protease mediated feedback mechanism in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chymotrypsin / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feces / enzymology
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pancreas / enzymology*
  • Pancreatic Elastase / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Function Tests / methods
  • Pancreatin


  • Pancreatin
  • Chymotrypsin
  • Pancreatic Elastase