Serum levels of immunoreactive trypsin during development: Comparison with levels of lipase and amylase

Carla Colombo, Rita Maiavacca, Mariangela Ronchi, Paolo Bottani, Luciana Stripparo, Carlo Corbetta, Lucia Piceni Sereni

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In order to obtain additional information on serum pancreatic enzyme levels during development, we have measured immunoreactive trypsin (IRT), immunoreactive lipase (IRL), and total amylase in paired fetal and maternal sera. Samples were obtained during early gestation (14-21 week of gestation) and at the time of normal delivery. IRT levels were lower in maternal sera as compared to paired fetal and neonatal (p <0.005); conversely, IRL and amylase, although present in measurable concentrations, were significantly lower in fetal and neonatal sera than in the maternal (p <0.001). We also serially monitored serum pancreatic enzyme levels in a group of premature infants during the first 10 days of life. Concentrations of IRT showed a significant increase over time (p <0.05) and those of IRL remained stable while amylase levels decreased sharply, suggesting possible maternal origin of this enzyme. Serum concentrations of the three pancreatic enzymes in newborns at term (second day of life) were higher than in infants aged 0.5-6 months; however, only IRT levels were above the normal range for adults. Beyond the neonatal period, IRT levels were stable and comparable to adults, whereas amylase and IRL levels were very low in infants younger than 6 months and increased significantly with age (p <0.001). These data seem to indicate that “physiologic hyper-trypsinemia” occurs early during development and may be accentuated by postnatal events. They provide an indirect indication of both early fetal production of trypsinogen and possible placental transfer of pancreatic enzymes from the maternal circulation. The overall results would suggest that only beyond the neonatal period can determination of serum pancreatic enzyme levels be used as an indirect index of their asynchronous development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989


  • Human development
  • Immunoreactive lipase
  • Immunoreactive trypsin
  • Total amylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Histology


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