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Background: Pancreatic enzyme preparations are a life-saving substitution for a pivotal physiological function of the entire organism that is impaired in chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and other diseases with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Pancreatic enzyme preparations, generically called pancreatin, are not alike. Rather, they present a broad variety of pancreatin composition.

Aim: The properties of a set of commercially available pancreatin preparations were investigated in light of the physiological tasks such enzymes must fulfill during the normal digestive process.

Methods: Measurements of size, surface, acid resistance, release of enzymes, pharmacokinetics and batch consistency were undertaken.

Results: Although all pancreatin preparations contain the declared lipase units and are acid-stable, a wide variation was observed in the particle size (pyloric passage), specific surface area and release kinetics of lipase activity at pH 6 (duodenum).

Conclusion: At present, available pancreatin preparations vary widely with respect to investigated parameters, which may have consequences for facilitating optimal digestion.

(C) 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.