Ethyl pyruvate and analogs as potential treatments for acute pancreatitis: A review of in vitro and in vivo studies

Pancreatology. 2019 Mar;19(2):209-216. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2018.12.007. Epub 2018 Dec 25.


Ethyl pyruvate (EP) has been shown to improve outcomes from multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) in experimental animal models of critical illness. This review aimed to summarise in vitro and in vivo effects of EP analogs on acute pancreatitis (AP) with the objective of proposing medicinal chemistry modifications of EP for future research. In vitro studies showed that both sodium pyruvate and EP significantly reduced pancreatic acinar necrotic cell death pathway activation induced by multiple pancreatic toxins. In vivo studies using different murine AP models showed that EP (usually at a dose of 40 mg/kg every 6 h) consistently reduced pain, markers of pancreatic injury, systemic inflammation and MODS. There was also a significant increase in survival rate, even when EP was administered 12 h after disease induction (compared with untreated groups or those treated with Ringer's lactate solution). Experimental studies suggest that EP and analogs are promising drug candidates for treating AP. EP or analogs can undergo medicinal chemistry modifications to improve its stability and deliverability. EP or analogs could be evaluated as a supplement to intravenous fluid therapy in AP.

Keywords: Acute pancreatitis; Ethyl pyruvate; Fluid therapy; Medicinal chemistry; Pancreatic acinar cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Pancreas / drug effects
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatitis / drug therapy*
  • Pyruvates / therapeutic use*


  • Biomarkers
  • Pyruvates
  • ethyl pyruvate