Background: Decreased function of the exocrine pancreas is frequent in patients with diabetes. Our aim was to investigate clinical correlates of pancreatic exocrine failure in patients with diabetes.
Patients and methods: We investigated exocrine function by assaying both elastase-1 concentration and chymotrypsin activity in 667 patients. We conducted separate analysis on patients with Type 1 diabetes and patients with Type 2 diabetes. Patients were separated into three groups according to whether both elastase-1 concentration and chymotrypsin activity were normal, or one or both were altered.
Results: A total of 667 consecutive patients were analysed, including 195 with Type 1 and 472 with Type 2 diabetes. Elastase-1 concentration was <200 μg/g in 23% of the patients. Chymotrypsin activity was <6 U/g in 26% of the patients. In 66% of the patients elastase-1 concentration was >200 ug/g and chymotrypsin activity >6 U/g. One test was below threshold in 19%, both in 15%. In patients with Type 1 diabetes, the three groups defined by results of elastase-1 concentration and chymotrypsin activity differed with regard to duration of diabetes and prevalence of glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies, but not BMI or HbA(1c) , or prevalence of retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy or vascular disease. In patients with Type 2 diabetes, the three groups differed with regard to BMI, use of insulin and vascular disease, but not known duration.
Conclusion: Factors associated with pancreatic exocrine failure differ in patients with Type 1 diabetes compared with patients with type 2 diabetes. In patients with Type 2 diabetes, association of decreased pancreatic exocrine function with BMI and vascular disease suggests a role of pancreatic arteriopathy.
© 2012 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine © 2012 Diabetes UK.