Despite treatment with supra-physiological doses of pancreatic enzyme supplements, residual steatorrhoea is a common problem in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and pancreatic insufficiency. Strategies to enhance the activity of pancreatic enzymes include decreasing duodenal acidity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of omeprazole (Losec), a proton-pump inhibitor, on fat absorption in CF patients with residual steatorrhoea despite high dose pancreatic enzyme supplements (> or =10,000 U lipase/kg per day). A random cross-over design was chosen. Fat digestion was evaluated with and without omeprazole by means of chemical fat measurements in 3-day stool collections together with 3-day weighed food records for calculation of fat absorption. The results of 15 patients (3 girls and 12 boys) with confirmed steatorrhoea during the control evaluation were analysed. Median age was 8.7 years (range 3.5-15.9 years). Median daily lipase intake was 13,500 U/kg per day (range 10,000-22,000 U/kg per day). During treatment with omeprazole, median faecal fat loss (g fat/day) decreased from 13 g (quartiles 11.5-16.5 g/day) to 5.5 g (quartiles 4.9-8.1 g/day) (P<0.01). The same improvement was noted when fat absorption was calculated: 87% (quartiles 81-89%) without versus 94% (quartiles 90-96%) with omeprazole (P<0.001).
Conclusion: Omeprazole improves fat digestion and absorption in cystic fibrosis patients with residual faecal fat loss despite maximal pancreatic enzyme substitution.