Digestive enzymes are enzymes in the alimentary tract that break down food so that the organism can absorb it. The main sites of action are the oral cavity, the stomach, the duodenum and the jejunum. They are secreted by different glands: the salivary glands, the glands in the stomach, the pancreas, and the glands in the small intestines.
In the oral cavity, salivary glands secrete ptyalin. It is a type of α-amylase, which digests starch into small segments of multiple sugars and into individual soluble sugars. Secreted by small and large salivary glands.
Salivary glands also secrete lysozyme, which kills bacteria but is not classified as a digestive enzyme.
There are no digestive enzymes secreted in the esophagus.
The enzymes that get secreted in the stomach are called gastric enzymes. These are the following:
- Pepsin is the main gastric enzyme. As it breaks proteins into smaller peptide fragments, it is a peptidase.
- Gelatinase, degrades type I and type V gelatin and type IV and V collagen, which are proteoglycans in meat.
- Gastric amylase degrades starch, but is of minor significance.
- Gastric lipase is a tributyrase by its biochemical activity, as it acts almost exclusively on tributyrin, a butter fat.
The pancreas is the main digestive gland in our body. It secretes the enzymes:
- Trypsin, is a peptidase, that breaks down peptides in the small intestine.
- Chymotrypsin, also a peptidase
- Steapsin, degrades triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol.
- Carboxypeptidase, splits peptide fragments into individual amino acids. It is a protease.
- Several elastases that degrade the protein elastin and some other proteins.
- Several nucleases that degrade nucleic acids, like DNAase and RNAase
- Pancreatic amylase that, besides starch, glycogen and cellulose, degrades most other carbohydrates.
- Bile from the liver, which emulsifies fat, allowing more efficient use of lipases in the duodenum; in converting lipids to their component fatty acid and glycerol molecules
Proper small intestine enzymes
- Several peptidases.
- The jejunum and ileum secretes a juice called succus entericus which contains the following:
Six types of enzymes degrade disaccharides into monosaccharides:
- Sucrase, which breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose
- Maltase, which breaks down maltose into glucose.
- Isomaltase, which breaks down maltose and isomaltose
- Lactase, which breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose
- Intestinal lipase, which breaks down fatty acids
- Erepsin, also a protein-digesting enzyme