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Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1985 Jul 20;115(29):973-87.

[The pancreas and alcohol].

[Article in German]


The action of acute and chronic administration of ethanol on pancreatic exocrine secretion in humans and several animal species is reviewed. If the data concerning the secretory action of ethanol on the pancreas are to the property assessed, several experimental variables have to be considered. Acute intravenous administration of ethanol inhibits basal and hormonally stimulated pancreatic secretion of bicarbonate and protein in nonalcoholic humans and most species of animals tested. Oral or intraduodenal ethanol causes moderate stimulation of pancreatic bicarbonate and enzyme secretion. Since anticholinergic agents and truncal vagotomy diminish the ethanol-induced inhibition of pancreatic secretion in the intact animal, it is possible that the action of ethanol on the pancreas is at least partly mediated by inhibitory cholinergic mechanisms. The action of ethanol on the pancreas may also be mediated by release of gastrointestinal hormones. Intravenous and oral administration of ethanol releases gastrin in dogs but not in humans. Pancreatic polypeptide is unlikely to be the hormonal mediator of the ethanol-induced inhibition of exocrine pancreatic secretion in humans and dogs, since ethanol does not release pancreatic polypeptide. The main secretory changes induced by chronic alcoholism in humans and dogs are increased basal secretion of pancreatic enzymes and decreased basal bicarbonate output, and these secretory changes may favour the occurrence of protein precipitates which are believed to be the first lesion of chronic pancreatitis in man. A decrease in the concentration of "pancreatic stone protein" in pancreatic juice may favour the development of protein precipitates in chronic alcoholic patients.

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