Diabet Med. 2012 Aug;29(8):1047-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2012.03597.x.

Pancreatic exocrine function in patients with diabetes.

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Laboratoire de coprologie, Hôtpital de la Pitié-Salpétrière, APHP, Paris, France. etienne.larger@htd.aphp.fr



Decreased function of the exocrine pancreas is frequent in patients with diabetes. Our aim was to investigate clinical correlates of pancreatic exocrine failure in patients with diabetes.


We investigated exocrine function by assaying both elastase-1 concentration and chymotrypsin activity in 667 patients. We conducted separate analysis on patients with Type 1 diabetes and patients with Type 2 diabetes. Patients were separated into three groups according to whether both elastase-1 concentration and chymotrypsin activity were normal, or one or both were altered.


A total of 667 consecutive patients were analysed, including 195 with Type 1 and 472 with Type 2 diabetes. Elastase-1 concentration was <200 μg/g in 23% of the patients. Chymotrypsin activity was <6 U/g in 26% of the patients. In 66% of the patients elastase-1 concentration was >200 ug/g and chymotrypsin activity >6 U/g. One test was below threshold in 19%, both in 15%. In patients with Type 1 diabetes, the three groups defined by results of elastase-1 concentration and chymotrypsin activity differed with regard to duration of diabetes and prevalence of glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies, but not BMI or HbA(1c) , or prevalence of retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy or vascular disease. In patients with Type 2 diabetes, the three groups differed with regard to BMI, use of insulin and vascular disease, but not known duration.


Factors associated with pancreatic exocrine failure differ in patients with Type 1 diabetes compared with patients with type 2 diabetes. In patients with Type 2 diabetes, association of decreased pancreatic exocrine function with BMI and vascular disease suggests a role of pancreatic arteriopathy.

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