Time-course of changes in pancreatic size and enzyme composition in rats during starvation

Int J Pancreatol. 1989 Jul;5(1):35-45. doi: 10.1007/BF02925696.


The effect of starvation for 3, 5, or 7 d on body weight, fat stores, pancreatic weight, and enzyme composition was studied in 300 g rats and was compared with a 3-d fast in 200 g rats. In the 300 g animals, fasting led to a gradual hypotrophy of the pancreas with a marked, continuous decrease in amylase content. Pancreatic lipase, trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, proelastase, and secretory trypsin inhibitor contents increased temporarily, but by d 7, they declined to about the initial values. This decline in enzyme levels coincided with the exhaustion of fat stores. The decrease in amylase content could be related to decreases in circulating insulin levels, whereas the temporary increase in lipase content may be owing to changes in plasma free fatty acid concentrations. In 200 g rats, starvation for 3 d led to exhaustion of fat stores that was accompanied by greater losses of pancreatic weight, protein, and amylase contents. In addition, the levels of trypsinogen and chymotrypsinogen decreased and lipase was unchanged. These findings indicate that during starvation, changes in pancreatic secretory enzymes are time-dependent and vary with the age, body weight, and/or adipose tissue mass of the rats.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / enzymology
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Amylases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Chymotrypsinogen / metabolism
  • Enzyme Precursors / metabolism
  • Fasting
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pancreas / enzymology
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Elastase / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Starvation / enzymology*
  • Starvation / pathology
  • Time Factors
  • Trypsin Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Trypsinogen / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Fatty Acids
  • Insulin
  • Trypsin Inhibitors
  • Trypsinogen
  • Chymotrypsinogen
  • Lipase
  • Amylases
  • proelastase
  • Pancreatic Elastase