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Amylase Vs. Lipase

Mrunal Belvalkar
Of the scores of different enzymes in the body, amylase and lipase are two enzymes that help us digest the food we eat. The key differences in the two enzymes have been explained here.
Enzymes can be very simply defined as catalytic proteins. All enzymes are proteins, however all proteins are not enzymes. A catalyst is a substance that greatly increases the rate and efficiency of a chemical reaction without actively participating in the chemical reaction itself.
Hence enzymes are recyclable (i.e., the same molecules of an enzyme can repeatedly assist in carrying out a single reaction over and over again).
Importance of enzymes is stated by the fact that - if an enzyme catalyzed reaction was to take place in absence of an enzyme, it would need more energy for the chemicals to be activated and undergo the reaction, which would take very long time (years instead of milliseconds). Enzymes thus function by lowering the activation energy of a chemical reaction.
Did you know that there are more than 70,000 enzymes in the human body? Many of these enzymes are involved in the breakdown of the food we eat, so that it can be assimilated. These are commonly known as digestive enzymes. Amylase and lipase are two such enzymes.

Comparison Between Amylase and Lipase


Definition: Amylase is an enzyme involved in the hydrolysis of starch. Amylase breaks down starch molecules into sugars.

  • E. C. Number: α-amylase = | β-amylase = | γ-amylase =
  • Class of Enzyme: Hydrolases
  • Substrate: Starch
  • Products: Sugars
  • Co-factors: Calcium ion, chloride ion
  • Occurrence: Microorganisms, plants, and animals. In humans, amylase is found in saliva and pancreas.
  • Functions: Carbohydrate metabolism
  • Related Health Issues:  The blood serum level of amylase is often an indicator of the health of pancreas. Normal level of blood serum amylase is 21-101 U/L. If elevated levels of amylase are detected in the blood serum, it indicates the person could be suffering from acute pancreatic inflammation, peptic ulcer, ovarian cyst or even mumps.
  • Applications: Bread making - Amylase makes the bread dough "rise", As a food additive, Removes starch from starched clothes; hence used in detergents. 


Definition: Lipase is any enzyme that is involved in the hydrolysis of lipids. Lipase acts on the ester linkage in a lipid.

  • E. C. Number: 3.1.1
  • Class of Enzyme: Esterases (sub-class of Hydrolases)
  • Substrate: Lipids (fatty acid esters)
  • Products: Digested, less complex forms of fats
  • Occurrence: Microorganisms, plants, animals. In humans, different types of lipases are found in different parts of the body. They are specialized to carry out the hydrolysis of different lipids. Gastric lipase, pancreatic lipase, lingual lipase are found in digestive juices; endothelial lipase, lipoprotein lipase, hepatic lipase are found in endothelium.
  • Functions: Lipid metabolism, Assists in synthesis of cell membrane, Plays a role in absorption of fat soluble vitamins, viz., Vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Related Health Issues: Lysosomal lipase deficiency can cause the Wolman disease as well as Cholesteryl Ester Storage Disease (CESD). Both diseases are caused by a mutation in the gene encoding the enzyme. Both are autosomal recessive diseases.
  • Applications: Baking industry, Laundry detergents, Biocatalyst, Production of alternative sources of energy.
As a new student of cell biology, human physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, biotechnology and other such life science related subjects and disciplines, knowing and remembering the names and properties of different enzymes might become difficult till you get used to it!
However, one study tip we can give here is, it always helps to study two similar concepts by making a comparison, like the one you just read. That way everything is in front of you in a nutshell; the similarities and the differences. We are sure it will work for you!