Exocrine pancreatic function in the early phase of human acute pancreatitis

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1995 Feb;30(2):186-91. doi: 10.3109/00365529509093260.


Background: Little is known about exocrine pancreatic function during human acute pancreatitis. We aimed to evaluate interdigestive exocrine pancreatic secretion and pancreatic polypeptide (PP) release during the early phase of acute pancreatitis in humans.

Methods: Eight patients with acute pancreatitis (six biliary, one alcoholic, and one idiopathic acute pancreatitis) were studied within 72 h from the onset of symptoms. Four patients had necrotizing and four had edematous acute pancreatitis. Normal values were obtained from 26 normal subjects matched by sex and age. Interdigestive pancreatic secretion was studied by a duodenal intubation perfusion technique. Enzyme output was calculated for consecutive 15-min periods over 3-4 h and expressed as units per hour within a secretion cycle and units per hour around a secretion peak. Plasma PP concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay in 15-min intervals.

Results: All variables studied were similar in patients with acute pancreatitis and in controls. PP release in acute pancreatitis was maintained in a normal cyclical pattern closely related to the secretory cycles.

Conclusions: Interdigestive exocrine pancreatic secretion in the early phase of mild to moderate acute pancreatitis in humans remains within the normal range. This finding provides a rational basis for early therapeutic inhibition of pancreatic secretion in human acute pancreatitis.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Amylases / metabolism
  • Chymotrypsin / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / metabolism*
  • Pancreas / physiopathology
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide / metabolism*
  • Pancreatitis / physiopathology*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Reference Values
  • Time Factors
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Pancreatic Polypeptide
  • Amylases
  • Chymotrypsin
  • Trypsin