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Do Adult Celiacs with Pancreatic Insufficiency Require Long-Term Enzyme Supplements?


New research on pancreatic insufficiency and celiac disease.

Celiac.com 06/18/2010 - One of the conditions associated with celiac disease is called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. A previous study showed that exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is the trigger for about one in three (20/66) cases of current or persistent diarrhea in adults with celiac disease. Of these 20 patients, 19 showed initial improvement with pancreatic supplementation.

However, at this point, there are no longitudinal studies on exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in the medical literature. A research team set out to rectify that by conducting their own longitudinal study. The team included Kate E. Evans, John S. Leeds, Stephen Morley, and David S. Sanders.

Over the next four years, the team conducted prospective follow-up checks on the 20 patients who received therapy for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. The team assessed gastrointestinal symptoms, dietary adherence, celiac antibody status, and dose of enzyme supplementation. They repeated titters for fecal elastase-1 (Fel-1) to reassess exocrine pancreatic function.

The team was able to review 19 of the 20 patients; one patient had died. The group averaged 59.7 years of age. Seven subjects were male. On average, patients suffered from celiac disease for 13.2 years.

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Eleven out of nineteen patients continued on enzyme supplementation, with average doses of 45,000 units of lipase per day. Only one of the eleven patients reported no reduction in symptoms, while eight of the 19 patients had discontinued the supplements after their diarrhea abated.

The entire group showed a substantial increase in Fel-1 levels over time, with median values of 90 lg/g at zero months, 212 lg/g at six months, and 365 lg/g at follow-up of 45–66 months (p/0.0001).

Fecal elastase-1 is helpful in spotting exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in adult celiac patients with diarrhea.

Results of the team's longitudinal survey indicate that that patients with celiac disease can end pancreatic enzyme supplementation as symptoms improve.

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