Lipase in the blood - what does the value say?
The term "lipase" describes several enzymes that break down fats in chemical reactions. Lipases occur in nature and in the human body in large numbers and cause different reactions in different places, organs and cells.
The breakdown of fats plays an important role in the body's fat metabolism. Activation of the lipase breaks down fats into so-called "free fatty acids", which can then be broken down further and converted into energy. For example, endurance sports or fasting lead to increased activity of lipase and a breakdown of fats in the fat cells.
In medicine, lipase in most cases means pancreatic lipase. It is part of the digestive secretions of the pancreas, which are released into the chyme when food is consumed in the duodenum. The lipase can break down the fats from food and make them digestible so that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
The value of the pancreatic lipase is measured in the blood in order to assess the function of the pancreas and, if the value deviates, to be able to draw conclusions about possible diseases of the organ.
Normal lipase values indicate a regulated function of the pancreas, whereby the values can fluctuate strongly depending on the nutritional status.
With food intake, more lipase is produced and released. In adults, the lipase level should be between 5-60 U / l. The unit stands for units ("units") per liter. The value can differ in different laboratories. As a rule, each laboratory gives its own standard values in addition to the measured value during the examination.
You can also find comprehensive information on our website "Pancreatic Enzymes".
Causes of increased lipase levels
Elevated lipase levels do not always indicate a disease. If there are no symptoms and other normal blood tests, an illness is very unlikely. In these cases, elevated values can indicate a harmless release of lipase during digestion.
Typically in combination with pain in the upper abdomen and back, however, an increased lipase level can also indicate a disease of the pancreas. The most common cause is inflammation of the pancreas, which can result, for example, from excessive alcohol consumption. Inflammation of the pancreas can cause considerable pain and, in the worst case, lead to severe damage and a life-threatening clinical picture. As a rule, other enzymes such as Amylase determined, which can further substantiate the suspicion of a pancreatic disease.
Another, but rare, reason for elevated lipase levels can be pancreatic cancer. This is a rare but highly aggressive cancer. It leads to malfunction of the pancreas and thus also to deviations of the pancreatic enzymes, as well as the lipase.
There may be other reasons for increased lipase levels in the blood
- certain drugs,
- intensive inpatient treatments,
- medical endoscopic examinations of the small intestine or
- Kidney weakness
Causes of low lipase levels
In most cases, decreased lipase levels have no disease value. For many people, lipase levels can drop significantly between meals without the occurrence of disease or disturbance of the pancreas.
Only in rare cases is an actual illness behind a lowered lipase. This can be a poorly functioning pancreas after a chronic inflammation.
The rare, chronic disease "Cystic fibrosis“Leads to dysfunction of the pancreas, which can be shown in a decreased lipase level.
Consequences of a lipase disorder
A change in lipase levels alone does not have to be accompanied by symptoms. However, if the pancreas is inflamed, this can have serious consequences. An acutely inflamed pancreas can release digestive secretions in an uncontrolled manner and, in the worst case, digest itself. This leads to a life-threatening, septic clinical picture with severe pain and other complaints.
A functional impairment of the pancreas can furthermore have serious consequences for the digestion and the sugar balance of the body, since the pancreas is also responsible for the secretion of insulin.
Due to the lack of lipase in the digestive juice, fatty foods can be more difficult to digest, which can lead to high-volume diarrhea and fatty stools.
Food can be absorbed more poorly by the body, which can lead to a lack of nutrients despite sufficient food intake.