Determinants of Exocrine Pancreatic Function as Measured by Fecal Elastase-1 Concentrations (FEC) in Patients with Diabetes mellitus

Eur J Med Res. 2009 Mar 17;14(3):118-22. doi: 10.1186/2047-783x-14-3-118.


Objective: Recently it has been shown that there is not only endocrine insufficiency in diabetic patients, but a frequent co-morbidity of both, the endocrine and exocrine pancreas. The present study was performed to further analyse the determinants of exocrine pancreatic function in patients with diabetes mellitus.

Methods: The records of 1992 patients with diabetes mellitus who had been treated in our hospital during a 2-year period were re-evaluated. Defined parameters were documented in standardized data sheets. Records were further checked for the results of imaging procedures of the pancreas. In 307 patients FEC had been performed and documented. Only these patients were included in further evaluation.

Results: FEC was inversely correlated with diabetes duration and HbA1c-levels but not with age. C-peptide levels correlated positively with FEC. BMI and FEC were also significantly correlated. There was no correlation between diabetes therapy and exocrine pancreatic function as there was no correlation with any concomitant medication. The presence of diabetes-associated antibodies was not related to FEC. According to the documented data 38 were classified as type-1 diabetes (12.4%), 167 as type-2 (54.4%), and 88 patients met the diagnostic criteria of type-3 (28.7%). Fourteen patients could not be classified because of lacking information (4.6%).

Conclusions: Exocrine insufficiency might be explained as a complication of diabetes mellitus. However, it is more likely that type-3 diabetes is much more frequent than previously believed. Consequently the evaluation of exocrine function and morphology should be included into the clinical workup of any diabetic patient at least at the time of manifestation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / enzymology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / metabolism*
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Feces / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / metabolism*
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / pathology
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / physiopathology
  • Pancreatic Elastase / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Function Tests
  • Young Adult


  • C-Peptide
  • Pancreatic Elastase