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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2012 October;103(5):393-412


language: Italian

Pancreatic hyperenzymemia: new advances in the field of clinical-diagnostic approach, with particular attention about Gullo’s syndrome

Catanzaro R., Italia A.

Unità Operativa Complessa di Medicina Interna “A. Francaviglia”, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Patologie Sistemiche, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria, “Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele”, Catania, Italia


An increase in serum levels of pancreatic enzymes is a well-known manifestation of pancreatic disease, especially of inflammatory or neoplastic nature, even if several extrapancreatic diseases can equally cause that increase. In addition to this pathological type of hyperenzymemia, different “non-pathological” forms have also been identified, including macroamylasemia, salivary, and mixed salivary and pancreatic hyperamylasemia, in all of which only amylase elevations are seen. Nevertheless, in 1996 a new syndrome characterized by an abnormal, chronic, benign increase in levels of serum amylase, pancreatic isoamylase, lipase and trypsin, asymptomatic and usually discovered incidentally, was described for the first time by Lucio Gullo et al. Hyperamylasemia/hyperlipasemia’s observation is nowadays on the increase because general practitioners tend to include more frequently amylase and lipase in routine blood tests and, moreover, because the constant evaluation of this biochemical alteration in the Emergency Unit: for this reason, this syndrome was clearly identified only recently. Therefore, it’s characterized by serum elevation of all pancreatic enzymes in the absence of underlying diseases; it occurs in either sporadic or familial form and it persists over time with considerable fluctuation in serum enzyme concentrations, including frequent normalizations. Proper diagnosis of this form of hyperenzymemia is important because it reassures the subjects having this anomaly that the syndrome is benign, and because it can prevent multiple and expensive diagnostic tests or useless hospitalizations or therapies.

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