The present study was undertaken to examine the intestinal phase of cholecystokinin (CCK) secretion and gall bladder contraction in patients with severe pancreatic insufficiency. Plasma CCK concentrations, measured by radioimmunoassay, and gall bladder contraction by cholescintigraphy were studied in response to intraduodenal fat with and without addition of pancreatic enzymes. Fasting plasma CCK concentrations were in the same range in six patients with pancreatic insufficiency with (2.6 (0.2) pmol/l) and without (2.6 (0.3) pmol/l) addition of pancreatic enzymes and in six healthy subjects (2.0 (0.4) pmol/l). The integrated plasma CCK secretion in response to intraduodenal fat was significantly (p less than 0.005) reduced in the patients without addition of enzymes (46 (13) pmol/1.90 min) compared with healthy subjects (199 (22) pmol/1.90 min), but increased significantly (p less than 0.01) by the addition of pancreatic enzymes (174 (25) pmol/1.90 min) to values not significantly different from healthy subjects. Similarly, gall bladder emptying in response to intraduodenal fat was significantly (p less than 0.01) reduced in patients with pancreatic insufficiency without addition of enzymes (at 90 min: 35 (11)%) compared with healthy subjects (at 90 min: 66 (7)%) but significantly (p less than 0.01) increased by addition of pancreatic enzymes (at 90 min: 70 (8)%) to values not significantly different from healthy subjects. These results indicate that patients with severe pancreatic insufficiency have impaired gall bladder emptying after intraduodenal fat, which can be normalised by the addition of pancreatic enzymes. This impaired gall bladder emptying appears to be the result of a reduced plasma CCK response. Thus, intra-intestinal pancreatic enzymes play an important role in the intestinal phase of CCK secretion and gall bladder emptying.
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