Introduction to Amylase

Amylase is the digestive enzyme that breaks the starch into smaller carbohydrate molecules. This enzyme is produced in two areas, primarily it is produced in the salivary glands of our mouth, where it generates salivary amylase which starts the process of digestion. Here, breaking down the starch and converting it into maltose and smaller carbohydrates starts. 

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Then the cells in the pancreas produce different types of amylase, called pancreatic amylase that travels through a duct to reach the small intestine. Amylase in the pancreatic finishes the digestion of carbohydrates, producing glucose.   

Types of Amylase 

Amylase is divided into three types denoted alpha-amylase, beta-amylase, and gamma amylase, they differ in the way of attacking the bond of the starch molecules. 


It is widespread among living organisms, like in the digestive system of humans and also in many other mammals, an alpha-amylase named ptyalin is produced by the salivary glands. Whereas pancreatic amylase is secreted by the pancreas into the small intestine, the optimum pH level of the alpha-amylase is around 6.7–7.0.

An alpha-amylase ptyalin is mixed with the food in the mouth, where it mainly acts on the starch. Even though food remains in the mouth only for a short duration, the action of the enzyme ptyalin continues for several hours in the stomach. Until the food is mixed with the stomach secretion, the higher acidity of the stomach inactivated ptyalin. The digestive action of the ptyalin’s enzyme depends on the level of acid in the stomach, how rapidly the stomach content gets empty, and also how thoroughly the food has mixed with the acid.  

Under the optimal condition of the enzyme, around 30 - 40 percent of ingested starches can be broken down to maltose, during the digestion of the food. 

Further, when food is passed to the small intestine, the remainder of the starch molecule is catalyzed to the maltose by the pancreatic amylase enzyme.  This step of starch digestion takes place in the first section of the small intestine known as the duodenum, the region into which pancreatic juices empty. The by-products obtained by the hydrolysis of the amylase are broken down ultimately by other enzymes into molecules of glucose, and these are rapidly absorbed by the intestinal walls.  

Beta- Amylase:

This can be found in the yeasts, molds, bacteria, and plants particularly in the seeds, they have the optimum pH of 4 - 5. It is also the principal component of the mixture known as diastase, which is used to remove the starchy sizing agents from the textiles and also in the conversion of cereal grains to fermentable sugars.  

Gamma-amylase- They are mainly known for splitting certain types of glycosidic linkages in an acidic environment, and the optimum pH range of the gamma amylase is 3. 

Use of Amylase 

  • Amylases are used as flour additives, in the process of bread making to break down the complex starch in flour into simple sugars. Further, when yeast is added to these simple sugars it gets converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide and this imparts flavour and causes the bread to rise.

  • It is used for fermentation like in brewing beer and alcohol made from sugars, which are derived from starch. 

  • Amylase is also used to remove starch from starched clothes, therefore it can be used as a detergent. 

Difference Between Amylase and Lipase 

Some of the differences of amylase lipase are given below in detail. 



It is the enzyme involved in the hydrolysis of starch molecules into sugars.

It is the enzyme involved in the hydrolysis of lipids.

It is mainly divided into three groups as α-amylases, β-amylase, and γ-Amylase.

A sub-class of hydrolases in lipase known as Esterases

They act on the glycosidic bonds in a carbohydrate.

It acts on the ester bond in the lipid. 

The substrate of the amylase is starch molecules.

The substrate of the lipase is fatty acid esters such as triglycerides, fats, oils.

End products are Oligosaccharides (Dextrose, maltodextrin) and disaccharides (Maltose)

End products are Glycerol, Di-glycerides, Mono-glycerides, fatty acids like less complex forms of fats

The salivary gland secretes salivary amylase and pancreatic amylase is secreted by the pancreas.

Salivary lipase and pancreatic lipase are secreted by the salivary gland pancreas respectively. 

The main function of the amylase is Carbohydrate metabolism

The function of the lipase Lipid metabolism

Amylase is used as the flour additive and in the process of fermentation mainly. 

Lipase: It is used in the baking industry, Laundry detergents, Biocatalyst, and also in the production of alternative sources of energy.

Do You Know?

What are normal levels of amylase and lipase? Amylase lipases,  are the enzymes produced by the body to perform a certain task like pancreas produce amylase to breakdown carbohydrates in food into simple sugars. and lipase is used by the pancreas to digest fats into fatty acids further, both the sugars and fatty acids can be absorbed by the small intestine.  If they perform their task normally, we can say that their levels are normal and if they fail to perform their task. we can say that level might have increased or decreased. The increased level of amylase in the blood serum indicates that the person might be suffering from acute pancreatic inflammation, peptic ulcer, ovarian cyst, or even mumps.  Which can be found by the sr amylase test.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is Amylase So Important for Humans?

Answer. As amylase is responsible for breaking down the bonds of starches, polysaccharides, and complex carbohydrates into easier form to absorb simple sugars. salivary amylase is the first step in the chemical digestion of the food and further, it is carried out by the pancreatic amylase.  

2. Which Foods are High in Amylase?

Answer. Some of the fruits, vegetables, and other foods consist of natural digestive enzymes. Consuming this high amylase food can improve digestion. For example, you can consider raw honey (which has amylase and protease enzyme), bananas, and mangoes have amylase.   

3. What is Amylase and Describe Its Role in the Human Body?

Answer. It is the enzyme that hydrolyzes the starch molecule into a polymer composed of glucose units. Amylase is the digestive enzyme that helps the human body digest starch in the foods like potatoes.