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Biomarker: Amylase

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An amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the hydrolysis of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in the saliva of humans and some other mammals, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Foods that contain large amounts of starch but little sugar, such as rice and potatoes, may acquire a slightly sweet taste as they are chewed because amylase degrades some of their starch into sugar. The pancreas and salivary gland make amylase (alpha amylase) to hydrolyse dietary starch into disaccharides and trisaccharides which are converted by other enzymes to glucose to supply the body with energy. Plants and some bacteria also produce amylase. All amylases are glycoside hydrolases and act on α-1,4-glycosidic bonds.


(1) Robert Hill and Joseph Needham, The Chemistry of Life: Eight Lectures on the History of Biochemistry (London, England: Cambridge University Press, 1970), page 17 ; (2) Richard B. Silverman, The Organic Chemistry of Enzyme-catalyzed Reactions, 2nd ed. (London, England: Academic Press, 2002), page 1 ; (3) Jochanan Stenesh, Biochemistry, vol. 2 (New York, New York: Plenum, 1998), page 83 ; (4) Robert A. Meyers, ed., Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Comprehensive Desk Reference (New York, New York: Wiley-VCH, 1995), page 296.

Ramasubbu, N.; Paloth, V.; Luo, Y.; Brayer, G. D.; Levine, M. J. (1996). “Structure of Human Salivary α-Amylase at 1.6 Å Resolution: Implications for its Role in the Oral Cavity”. Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography 52 (3): 435–446. doi:10.1107/S0907444995014119. PMID 15299664.

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