The serum pancreatic polypeptide response to intravenous Boots secretin (1.5 U/kg), glucose tolerance, and insulin responses have been studied in 25 patients with chronic alcohol induced pancreatitis of varying severity, and these results compared with a secretin-pancreozymin test, and the structural damage noted on pancreatography. For the pancreatic polypeptide response 16 healthy subjects acted as controls. There was a marked reduction in pancreatic polypeptide response in patients with advanced structural changes of chronic alcohol induced pancreatitis compared with patients with minimal/moderate changes (p less than 0.01) and with healthy controls (p less than 0.05) although there was no difference between the latter two groups. Similarly, while the ratio of peak to mean basal pancreatic polypeptide concentration was also significantly reduced in patients with advanced changes compared with healthy controls (p less than 0.05) there was a marked degree of overlap in patients with lesser degrees of structural damage and control subjects. For all patients with chronic alcohol induced pancreatitis, however, there was a significant correlation between the pancreatic polypeptide response and each parameter of the standard secretin-pancreozymin test and with glucose tolerance and the integrated insulin response. We conclude therefore that while the secretin stimulated pancreatic polypeptide response correlates significantly with accepted tests of pancreatic structure and function, there is a significant degree of overlap in the response obtained in patients who have minimal/moderate damage and healthy controls making the test insufficiently sensitive for routine diagnostic use.
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