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Pancrelipase: an evidence-based review of its use for treating pancreatic exocrine insufficiency

Authors Nakajima K, Oshida H, Muneyuki T, Kakei M

Received 29 April 2012

Accepted for publication 30 May 2012

Published 19 July 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 77—91


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Kei Nakajima,1 Haruki Oshida,1 Toshitaka Muneyuki,2 Masafumi Kakei2

1Division of Clinical Nutrition, Department of Medical Dietetics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Josai University, Keyakidai, Sakado, 2First Department of Comprehensive Medicine, Saitama Medical Center, Jichi Medical University School of Medicine, Amanuma, Omiya, Saitama, Japan

Abstract: Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) is often observed in patients with pancreatic diseases, including chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and tumors, or after surgical resection. PEI often results in malnutrition, weight loss and steatorrhea, which together increase the risk of morbidity and mortality. Therefore, nutritional interventions, such as low-fat diets and pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), are needed to improve the clinical symptoms, and to address the pathophysiology of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. PERT with delayed-release pancrelipase is now becoming a standard therapy for pancreatic exocrine insufficiency because it significantly improves the coefficients of fat and nitrogen absorption as well as clinical symptoms, without serious treatment-emergent adverse events. The major adverse events were tolerable gastrointestinal tract symptoms, such as stomach pain, nausea, and bloating. Fibrosing colonopathy, a serious complication, is associated with high doses of enzymes. Several pancrelipase products have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in recent years. Although many double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of pancrelipase products have been conducted in recent years, these studies have enrolled relatively few patients and have often been less than a few weeks in duration. Moreover, few studies have addressed the issue of pancreatic diabetes, a type of diabetes that is characterized by frequent hypoglycemia, which is difficult to manage. In addition, it is unclear whether PERT improves morbidity and mortality in such settings. Therefore, large, long-term prospective studies are needed to identify the optimal treatment for pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. The studies should also examine the extent to which PERT using pancrelipase improves mortality and morbidity. The etiology and severity of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency often differ among patients with gastrointestinal diseases or diabetes (type 1 and type 2), and among elderly subjects. Finally, although there is currently limited clinical evidence, numerous extrapancreatic diseases and conditions that are highly prevalent in the general population may also be considered potential targets for PERT and related treatments.

Keywords: pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic diabetes, steatorrhea, pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, extrapancreatic diseases

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