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Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2007 Apr;9(2):99-106.

Nutritional immunomodulation of acute pancreatitis.

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Division of Gastroenterology, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Despite the great advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of acute pancreatitis, no specific therapy has emerged, and treatment remains supportive. In patients with the severe form of the disease, in which mortality remains high at 20% to 30%, the function of the upper gastrointestinal tract is disturbed due to extrinsic compression by the inflamed and swollen pancreas, and normal eating is impossible. Such patients often develop multiple organ failure, necessitating intensive-care management and artificial ventilation for weeks on end. In this setting, protein catabolism will rapidly result in protein deficiency and further complications unless nutritional support is commenced. Recent studies have shown that, despite the risk of disease exacerbation through pancreatic stimulation, enteral feeding is more effective than parenteral feeding in improving outcome. Experimental studies suggest that this can be attributed to its content of specific immunomodulating nutrients, such as glutamine, arginine, and n-3 fatty acids, and by its stabilizing effect on the gut flora through the provision of prebiotics. Further studies are indicated to examine whether dietary enrichment with these substrates, along with regulation of the gut bacteria with probiotics, can improve outcome further.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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