A Study of Pancreatic Function among Subjects over Ninety Years of Age

Pancreatology 2009;9:240-244 (DOI: 10.1159/000212090)

Background: Among the various studies of pancreatic function in the elderly published so far, none have dealt with subjects over 90 years of age. The aim of this study was to examine pancreatic function in healthy individuals over 90 years old.

Methods: Sixty-eight healthy noninstitutionalized elderly persons, aged 91-104 years, with a mean age of 95 years, and 63 younger controls were studied. Pancreatic function was studied by determining fecal elastase 1 concentration. In addition to this test, we also measured serum amylase, pancreatic isoamylase and lipase in 53 of the 68 elderly subjects.

Results: All but 1 of the 68 elderly subjects had normal elastase 1 values; the one who did not had a value slightly below normal. No significant difference with controls was found.

Serum pancreatic enzymes were normal in almost all of the 53 elderly studied; 3 had a mild elevation only of amylase and 1 had a persistent elevation of amylase, pancreatic isoamylase and lipase. Conclusions: In subjects over 90 years of age, exocrine pancreatic function continues to be normal; if an impairment occurs, it is mild and not significant for digestion of food.

In addition, serum pancreatic enzymes remain within normal limits in the vast majority of cases.

Lucio Gulloa, Patrizia Simonia, Marina Miglioria, Laura Lucrezioa, Michela Bassia, Franca Fraua, Pier Lorenzo Costaa, Vincenzo Nesticòb

aInstitute of Internal Medicine, University of Bologna, St. Orsola Hospital, Bologna, and
bInstitute of Internal Medicine, Civile Hospital, Catanzaro, Italy

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