Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs and cats

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a malabsorptive syndrome caused by insufficient secretion of digestive enzymes from pancreatic acini. The most common causes of EPI in dogs and cats are pancreatic acinar atrophy and chronic pancreatitis. EPI is diagnosed by measurement of species-specific immunoassays for serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity, the concentration of which directly reflects the mass of functioning pancreatic acinar tissue. EPI is treated by pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, nutritional management (low-residue diets with moderate fat content), and supplementation of cobalamin. Some dogs and cats have persistent clinical signs despite these treatments. 

Growing evidence suggests that these clinical signs may be due to enteric microbiota dysbiosis or the presence of concurrent diseases such as chronic enteropathies. Management of these abnormalities may improve outcome in dogs and cats with EPI. The long-term prognosis for dogs and cats with EPI is generally good if high-quality medical therapy is provided. 

Future studies are needed to further understand the causes of persistent dysbiosis in animals with EPI following initiation of pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy and assess the efficacy of treatments to ameliorate these abnormalities.

“Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs and cats”. Harry Cridge, et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2023 Nov 9:1-10.  doi: 10.2460/javma.23.09.0505. 


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