Background: Recently, high prevalence of exocrine dysfunction in diabetic populations has been reported. Patients with fecal elastase 1 concentration (FEC) <100 microg/g have also been demonstrated to suffer from steatorrhea in about 60% of cases, indicating the need of pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy. Until now, there have only been a few reports on the use of enzyme replacement therapy in diabetic patients with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This investigation was designed to evaluate the impact of enzyme-replacement therapy on glucose metabolism and diabetes treatment in a prospective study of insulin-treated patients with diabetes mellitus.
Methods: A total of 546 patients with diabetes mellitus requiring insulin treatment were screened for exocrine dysfunction by FEC measurements. One hundred and fifteen patients (21.1%) had FEC <100 microg/g (normal >200 microg/g). Of these, 95 patients entered the study and 80 patients were randomized to receive either pancreatin (Creon) (39 patients) or placebo (41 patients) in a double-blind manner. Parameters of glucose metabolism, diabetes therapy and clinical symptoms were recorded in standardized protocols for 16 weeks.
Results: During the observation phase of 16 weeks, there were no significant differences between both groups concerning HbA(1c), fasting glucose levels, 2-h pp glucose levels, clinical parameters and safety parameters. A reduction in mild and moderate hypoglycemia was observed in the pancreatin group at the end of the study.
Conclusions: Pancreatin therapy can be used safely in patients with diabetes mellitus and exocrine dysfunction. Parameters of glucose metabolism were not improved by enzyme replacement therapy.