BACKGROUND Zinc is a key element in numerous proteins and plays an important role in essential cell functions such as defense against free radicals and DNA damage repair. Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a chronic inflammation with progressive fibrosis of pancreas ultimately resulting in pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI), which is associated with malnutrition. Studies analyzing zinc levels in patients with CP are sparse and lead to conflicting results. AIM To investigate serum zinc levels in patients with CP of various etiologies. METHODS Between October 2015 and March 2018, patients with a diagnosis of CP were identified and recruited from the Pancreatic Outpatient Clinic at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. Demographic, clinical and laboratory data were analyzed. Etiology of CP was determined according to the MANNHEIM classification system into the following etiological subcategories: alcohol consumption, nicotine consumption, hereditary factors, efferent pancreatic duct factors and immunological factors. Pancreatic exocrine function was defined as normal (fecal elastase 1 > 200 μg/g), mildly reduced (100-200 μg/g) and severely reduced (fecal elastase 1 < 100 μg/g). RESULTS A total of 150 patients were included in the analysis. Zinc deficiency (< 11 μmol/L) was present in 39 (26.0%) of patients: 22 females and 17 males. In the group of patients with zinc deficiency, 76.7% of patients had an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (FE-1 < 200 μg/g). Older age was significantly associated with low zinc levels. Following a univariate analysis, patients aged 60-69 and patients ≥ 70 years of age had a significantly higher prevalence of zinc deficiencies compared to patients < 40 years of age [OR: 3.8, 95%CI (1.08-13.4); P = 0.04]; [OR 6.26, 95%CI (1.94-20.2), P > 0.002]. Smoking and number of pack-years were additionally associated with low zinc levels. The risk of zinc deficiency in current smokers and smokers with ≥ 20 pack-years was approximately three times higher compared to those who had never smoked. Gender, body mass index, etiology of CP, presence of diabetes mellitus, levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), bone mineral density, alcohol intake and presence of PEI were not associated with low zinc levels. CONCLUSION Zinc deficiency is common in patients with CP and is significantly associated with age ≥ 60, smoking and the number of pack-years, but not with PEI.
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency
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