The excretion of catalytically active human or pig enterokinase in hepatic bile after intravenous administration to normal rats or rats that had been maintained on 20% (v/v) ethanol for 1 year showed similar kinetics to that described for other serum-derived bile proteins. The half-life in serum was 2.5 min or less, and most of the enzyme was excreted within 45 min of administration. This was maintained when up to six successive doses were given at 90 min intervals. The mean amount excreted per dose was independent of the dose number and varied from 0.8% to 2.1% in the normal animals and 1.2% to 2.0% in the chronic ethanol-maintained animals. When three doses of enzyme were given at 30 min intervals, the total amount of active enterokinase recovered in bile was dose-dependent and was consistently higher in the rats drinking 20% (v/v) ethanol. The serum half-life of enterokinase in rats made cirrhotic by inhalation of carbon tetrachloride vapour was extended to 6 min or more. The amount of active enzyme recovered in bile was at least 50% less than in weight-matched normal rats, and excretion was not complete 2h after intravenous administration. The possible significance of these findings in liver and pancreatic disease is discussed.

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