Amylase (An Enzyme that "Chews Up" Macromolecular Carbohydrate ) is a digestive enzyme classified as a saccharidase (an enzyme that cleaves polysaccharides). It is mainly a constituent of pancreatic juice and saliva, needed for the breakdown of long-chain carbohydrates (such as starch) into smaller units. Amylase is also synthesized in the fruit of many plants during ripening, causing them to become sweeter.
Enzyme that breaks down starch into a complex sugar that can be used in the body. It occurs widely in both plants and animals. In humans it is found in saliva and in the pancreatic digestive juices that drain into the alimentary canal.
Starch is an important food for humans and is found in plants such as potatoes and in wheat grains. It is made of large and insoluble molecules, but under the action of amylase produces sugars that are soluble - these can be absorbed by the body.
Alpha-amylase cleaves the a(1-4)glycosidic linkages of amylose to yield maltose molecules (disaccharides of a-glucose ).
In humans, all amylase isoforms link to chromosome 1q21.
Types of Amylase enzyme
There are two isoforms of amylase: pancreatic and salivary amylase. They behave differently on isoelectric focusing, and can also be separated in testing by using specific monoclonal antibodies.
Test of Amylase enzyme
The test for amylase is easy to perform and has been the main test for pancreatitis. Labs will usually measure either pancreatic amylase, or total amylase. If only pancreatic amylase is measured, an increase will not be noted with mumps or other salivary gland trauma.
Unfortunately, because of the small amount present, timing is critical when sampling blood for this measurement. Blood should preferably be taken soon after a bout of pancreatitis pain, otherwise it is excreted rapidly by the kidneys.
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