Acute and chronic pancreatitis constitute a continuum of inflammatory disease of the pancreas with an increasing incidence in most high-income countries. A subset of patients with a history of pancreatitis suffer from recurrence of acute pancreatitis attacks, which accelerate disease progression towards end-stage chronic pancreatitis with loss of exocrine and endocrine function. There is currently no available prophylactic treatment for recurrent acute pancreatitis apart from removing risk factors, which is not always possible. Pain is the primary symptom of acute pancreatitis, which induces the endogenous release of opioids. This may further be potentiated by opioid administration for pain management. Increased exposure to opioids leads to potentially harmful effects on the gastrointestinal tract, including, e.g. increased sphincter tones and decreased fluid secretion, which may impair pancreatic ductal clearance and elevate the risk for new pancreatitis attacks and accelerate disease progression. Peripherally acting µ-opioid receptor antagonists (PAMORAs) have been developed to counteract the adverse effects of opioids on the gastrointestinal tract. We hypothesize that the PAMORA naldemedine will reduce the risk of new pancreatitis attacks in patients with recurrent acute pancreatitis and hence decelerate disease progression.
The study is a double-blind, randomized controlled trial with allocation of patients to either 0.2 mg naldemedine daily or matching placebo for 12 months. A total of 120 outpatients will be enrolled from five specialist centres in Denmark and Sweden. The main inclusion criteria is a history of recurrent acute pancreatitis (minimum of two confirmed pancreatitis attacks). The primary endpoint is time to acute pancreatitis recurrence after randomization. Secondary outcomes include changes in quality of life, gastrointestinal symptom scores, new-onset diabetes, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, disease severity, health care utilization, adherence to treatment, and frequency of adverse events. Exploratory outcomes are included for mechanistic linkage and include the progression of chronic pancreatitis-related findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and changes in circulating blood markers of inflammation and fibrosis.
This study investigates if naldemedine can change the natural course of pancreatitis in patients with recurrent acute pancreatitis and improve patient outcomes.