Background: The pancreas has dual functions as a digestive organ and as an endocrine organ, by secreting digestive enzymes and endocrine hormones. Some early studies have revealed that serum amylase levels are lower in individuals with chronic pancreatitis, severe long-term type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes. Regarding this issue, we recently reported that low serum amylase levels were associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes in asymptomatic adults. In the light of this, we further investigated the fundamental relationship between serum amylase and cardiometabolic aspects by reanalyzing previous data which comprised subjects without diabetes treatment with oral hypoglycemic drugs or insulin (n = 2,344).
Findings: Serum amylase was inversely correlated with body mass index independently of age. Higher serum amylase levels were noted in older subjects aged 55 years old or more (n = 1,114) than in younger subjects (P < 0.0001, ANOVA), probably due to lower kidney function. It was likely that serum amylase may act similarly to other cardiometabolic protective factors such as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. However, serum amylase levels were significantly lower in drinkers, particularly daily drinkers (n = 746, P < 0.0001, ANOVA). Meanwhile, despite of consistent inverse relationship between serum amylase and fasting plasma glucose, the relationship between serum amylase and HbA1c may be rather complicated in individuals with normal or mildly impaired glucose metabolism (up to HbA1c 6.0% (NGSP)).
Conclusions: Revisiting the cardiometabolic relevance of serum amylase may yield novel insight not only into glucose homeostasis and metabolic abnormalities related to obesity, but also possibly carbohydrate absorption in the gut.