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Lipases are water-soluble enzymes that hydrolyze water-insoluble lipid molecules, such as triglycerides, phospholipids, and galactolipids. They are ubiquitous in nature and are present in humans, animals, insects, plants, fungi, and microorganisms. While we commonly consider pancreatic lipase, this review provides an overview of several lipases that are important for the digestion and metabolism of lipids in veterinary species. All of these enzymes have specific functions but share a common α/β-hydrolase fold and a catalytic triad where substrate hydrolysis occurs. The pancreatic lipase gene family is one of the best characterized lipase gene families and consists of 7 mammalian subfamilies: pancreatic lipase, pancreatic lipase related proteins 1 and 2, hepatic lipase, lipoprotein lipase, endothelial lipase, and phosphatidylserine phospholipase A1. Other mammalian lipases that play integral roles in lipid digestion include carboxyl ester lipase and gastric lipase. Although most enzymes have preferred substrate specificity, much overlap occurs across the plethora of lipases because of the similarities in their structures. This has major implications for the development and clinical utilization of diagnostic assays. These implications are further explored in our companion Currents in One Health article by Lim et al in the August 2022 issue of the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, which focuses on pancreatic lipase assays for the diagnosis of pancreatitis.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Pancreatitis commonly occurs in humans, dogs, and cats. For both veterinary and human health-care professionals, measurement of serum pancreatic lipase concentration or activity provides useful support for a diagnosis of pancreatitis. In this Currents in One Health manuscript, we will discuss commonly used lipase assays in veterinary medicine, namely catalytic colorimetric and immunological lipase assays. We highlight potential diagnostic pitfalls associated with analytical specificity, assay validation, and sample condition interferences. Catalytic lipase assays may detect extrapancreatic lipases. In addition, we propose a decision tree for interpretation of lipase assays in the context of a clinical patient.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To characterize gastrointestinal transit times (GITTs) and pH in dogs, and to compare to data recently described for cats.


7 healthy, colony-housed Beagles.


The GITTs and pH were measured using a continuous pH monitoring system. For the first period (prefeeding), food was withheld for 20 hours followed by pH capsule administration. Five hours after capsule administration, dogs were offered 75% of their historical daily caloric intake for 1 hour. For the second period (postfeeding), food was withheld for 24 hours. Dogs were allowed 1 hour to eat, followed by capsule administration. Both periods were repeated 3 times. The GITTs and pH were compared to published feline data.


The mean ± SD transit times in dogs for the pre- and postfeeding periods, respectively, were esophageal, 3 ± 5 minutes and 13 ± 37 minutes; gastric, 31 ± 60 minutes and 829 ± 249 minutes; and intestinal, 795 ± 444 minutes and 830 ± 368 minutes. The mean ± SD gastrointestinal pH in dogs for the pre- and postfeeding periods, respectively, were esophageal, 6.6 ± 0.6 and 5.7 ± 1.0; gastric, 3.0 ± 1.4 and 1.8 ± 0.3; intestinal, 7.9 ± 0.3 and 7.7 ± 0.6; first-hour small intestinal, 7.6 ± 0.5 and 7.1 ± 0.4; and last-hour large intestinal, 7.9 ± 0.6 and 7.7 ± 1.0. The first-hour small intestinal pH and total transit times varied between dogs and cats depending on feed period (P = .002 and P = .04, respectively). Post hoc analysis revealed significantly shorter total transit times in dogs prefeeding (P = .005; mean ± SD for cats, 2,441 ± 1,359 minutes; for dogs, 828 ± 439 minutes) and postfeeding (P = .03; mean ± SD for cats, 3,009 ± 1,220 minutes; for dogs, 1,671 ± 513 minutes). Total transit time for dogs was also shorter pre- versus postfeeding (P = .003).


GITT is faster in Beagles compared to cats, but gastrointestinal pH are similar when fed the same diet.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association