Is there any evidence that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) benefit patients with acute pancreatitis?

Despite their widespread use, there is no firm evidence that PPIs should be routinely prescribed in the treatment of acute pancreatitis (AP).1   In fact, current guidelines do not include the use of PPIs as standard therapy in  AP. 1-3

Although a 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis involving 6 randomized controlled trials and 3 cohort studies of patients with AP found a significant decrease in the rate of pancreatic pseudocyst formation in patients who received PPI, no significant difference in the rates of 7-day mortality, length of hospital stay, or acute respiratory distress syndrome was found when compared to control groups.3

Theoretically, PPIs may improve the course of AP through reduction in the incidence of stress-related upper GI hemorrhagic complications.  However, the incidence of such complications in AP is quite low, ranging from 1.2% to 14.5%, with great majority of cases (>85%) unrelated to peptic ulcer disease. 3,4  These findings may help explain why it has been difficult to show any benefit for use of PPIs in reducing the incidence of GI bleed in AP.3,5

Similarly, although PPIs have been shown to reduce secretin-stimulated bicarbonate secretion by the pancreas, the clinical significance of this finding in the overall course of AP—except perhaps a lower risk of pseudocysts—remains unclear.3 Parenthetically, experimental studies have reported contradictory results regarding the inhibition of pancreatic enzyme production by PPIs,  with omeprazole failing to suppress amylase release in isolated pancreatic acini while pantoprazole showing reduced amylase secretion in rats.3

It is also unclear how the reported anti-inflammatory effects of PPIs may benefit the clinical course of AP.3,6 What is clear is that any potential benefits of PPIs in AP should be weighed against their potential adverse effects, including the risk of nosocomial pneumonia, Clostridiodes difficile infection, and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.7,8 

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that PPIs may not only inhibit acid production by gastric parietal cells but also interfere with bactericidal activity of neutrophils?  One potential mechanism is interference with proton pump-dependent H202 generation within lysosomes necessary to create a highly acidic and bactericidal environment. 9  Fascinating!

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  1. Arvanitakis M, Dumonceau JM, Albert J, et al. Endoscopic management of acute necrotizing pancreatitis: European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ESGE) evidence-based multidisciplinary guideline. Endoscopy 2018; 50:524-46. Endoscopic management of acute necrotizing pancreatitis: European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ESGE) evidence-based multidisciplinary guideline – European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ESGE)
  2. Crocket SD, Wani S, Gardner TB, et al. American Gastroenterological Association Institute Guideline on Initial Management of Acute Pancreatitis. Gastroenterology 2018;154:1096-1101. American Gastroenterological Association Institute Guideline on Initial Management of Acute Pancreatitis (
  3. Horvath IL, Bunduc S, Hanko B , et al. No evidence for the benefit of PPIs in the treatment of acute pancreatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports 2023;13:2791.
  4. Rana SS, Sharma V, Bhasin Dk, et al. Gastrointestinal bleeding in acute pancreatitis: etiology, clinical features, risk factors and outcome. Tropical Gastroenterology 2015;36:31-35.
  5. Demcsak A, Soos A, Kincses L, et al. Acid suppression therapy, gastrointestinal bleeding and infection in acute pancreatitis-An international cohort study. Pancreatology 2020;20:1323-31.lyso
  6. Hackert T, Tudor S, Felix K, et al. Effects of pantoprazole in experimental acute pancreatitis. Comparative Study 2010;8:551-7.
  7. Elzouki AB, Neffati N, Rasoul FA, et al. Increased risk of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in cirrhotic patients using proton pump inhibitors. GE Port J Gastroenterol 2019; 26:83-89.,medical%20literature%20confirm%20this%20association.
  8. Yibirin M, De Oliveira D, Valera R, et al. Cureus 2021;13:e12759/,incidence%20of%20pneumonia%20%5B2%5D
  9. Ozatik O, Ozatik EY, Tesen Y, et al. Research into the effect of proton pump inhibitors on lungs and leukocytes. Turk J Gastroenterol 2021;32:1003-1011.


Disclosures/Disclaimers: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!


Is there any evidence that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) benefit patients with acute pancreatitis?

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