The aim of this study was to examine bone mineral density (BMD) and bone metabolism in patients with chronic pancreatitis to determine if increased severity of the disease would correlate with increased bone loss. Between October 1999 and September 2000, we investigated 42 patients with an average age of approximately 53 years suffering from chronic pancreatitis, as well as 20 healthy male controls with an average age of 49 years. Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) was performed on patients and controls, and serum levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), osteocalcin (OC), carboxy-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen (CICP), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP), 1,25(OH)(2) vitamin D(3) and 25(OH) vitamin D(3), as well as fecal elastase 1 were also determined. The severity of chronic pancreatitis in patients was determined via endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and assigned to 1 of 3 grades based on the Cambridge classification. BMD of patients with chronic pancreatitis was markedly decreased compared to controls (means in patients: DEXA lumbar vertebra anterior/posterior (LV ap) 96.8% +/- 4.2%, DEXA Ward's triangle (WARD) 92.2% +/- 5.2%; controls: DEXA LV ap 98.7% +/- 3.7%, DEXA WARD 97.1% +/- 3.1%; P <.05 and P <.0001) and correlated with the various Cambridge-grades (DEXA LV ap and DEXA WARD, P <.01). Fecal elastase 1 showed sensitivities of 14%, 87%, and 95% for the Cambridge-grades I, II, and III, respectively, and correlated with this classification of severity of chronic pancreatitis (P <.01). Furthermore, fecal elastase 1 of patients correlated the same way with both D(3)-vitamins (P <.01), as well as with parameters of BMD (P <.01). If fecal elastase 1 in patients was below 200 micro g/g, then the BMD and vitamin D(3) values were also significantly decreased compared to those with fecal elastase 1 above 200 micro g/g. In patients with Cambridge grades II and III 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) was markedly decreased (26.7 +/- 7.7 pg/mL and 27.6 +/- 9.0 pg/mL) compared to those with Cambridge grade I (38.0 +/- 10.5 pg/mL; between I and II, P =.027; between I and III, P =.033). 25(OH)D(3) was not significantly different within the various Cambridge groups (P =.07). Compared to controls, both D(3) vitamins, as well as fecal elastase 1, were extremely low (means in patients: fecal elastase 1, 140.7 +/- 75.7 micro g/g; 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), 29.9 +/- 9.5 pg/mL; 25(OH)D(3), 26.7 +/- 9.7 nmol/L; controls: fecal elastase 1, 694.9 +/- 138.6 micro g/g; 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), 67.5 +/- 4.3 pg/mL; 25(OH)D(3), 69.5 +/- 13.5 nmol/L). A significant correlation was observed between increased severity of chronic pancreatitis based on both endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and levels of fecal elastase 1, with decreased circulating levels of vitmain D(3) and decreased BMD. This supports a connection between the inflammatory destruction of the pancreas (Cambridge classification), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (fecal elastase 1), altered levels of vitamin D metabolites, and loss of skeletal mass.
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