The prevalence of fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies and a decreased bone mass in patients with chronic pancreatitis

Pancreatology. 2013 May-Jun;13(3):238-42. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2013.02.008. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


Background/objectives: In chronic pancreatitis, malabsorption of fat is common due to loss of exocrine function. Consequently, these patients are at risk to acquire deficiencies of the fat-soluble vitamins, which may result in a decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Methods: We prospectively enrolled all patients diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, who visited our outpatient clinic between March and November 2011. Data were collected regarding demographic characteristics, symptoms, and pancreatic function. Serum concentrations of vitamins A, E, K, and D were determined, and BMD was assessed by means of bone densitometry. Results were analyzed according to pancreatic function status and enzyme use, and compared to reference data, when available.

Results: Forty patients were included (43% female; mean age of 52). Alcohol abuse was the major cause of pancreatitis (50%). Twenty-eight patients were exocrine insufficient (70%), of whom 19 used pancreatic enzymes. Vitamin A, D, E, and K deficiencies were present in 3, 53, 10, and 63% of patients, respectively. Osteopenia and osteoporosis were observed in 45% and 10% of patients. A decreased BMD was more frequently observed than expected, based on reference data, even in exocrine sufficient patients.

Conclusions: Deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins and a decreased BMD are frequently present in chronic pancreatitis, even in exocrine sufficient patients. Consequently, all patients with chronic pancreatitis should be routinely screened for fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies and a decreased BMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Avitaminosis / epidemiology
  • Avitaminosis / etiology*
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / etiology
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / etiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / etiology
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / etiology
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / etiology