Pancreatic lipase

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Pancreatic lipase, also known as pancreatic triacylglycerol lipase, is an enzyme secreted from the pancreas. As the primary lipase enzyme that hydrolyzes (breaks down) dietary fat molecules in the human digestive system, it is one of the main digestive enzymes, converting triglyceride substrates found in ingested oils to monoglycerides and free fatty acids.

Triacylglycerol + 2 H2O \rightleftharpoons 2-monoacylglycerol + 2 fatty acid anions

Bile salts secreted from the liver and stored in gallbladder are released into the duodenum, where they coat and emulsify large fat droplets into smaller droplets, thus increasing the overall surface area of the fat, which allows the lipase to break apart the fat more effectively. The resulting monomers (2 free fatty acids and one 2-monoacylglycerol) are then moved by way of peristalsis along the small intestine to be absorbed into the lymphatic system by a specialized vessel called a lacteal. This protein belongs to the pancreatic lipase family.

Unlike some pancreatic enzymes that are activated by proteolytic cleavage (e.g., trypsinogen), pancreatic lipase is secreted in its final form. However, it becomes efficient only in the presence of colipase in the duodenum.

In humans, pancreatic lipase is encoded by the PNLIP gene.[1][2]

Diagnostic importance[edit]

Pancreatic lipase is secreted into the duodenum through the duct system of the pancreas. Its concentration in serum is normally very low. Under extreme disruption of pancreatic function, such as pancreatitis or pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the pancreas may begin to autolyse and release pancreatic enzymes including pancreatic lipase into serum. Thus, through measurement of serum concentration of pancreatic lipase, acute pancreatitis can be diagnosed.[3]

See also[edit]

  • Orlistat (a pancreatic lipase inhibitor marketed as an anti-obesity medication)


  1. ^ Davis RC, Diep A, Hunziker W, Klisak I, Mohandas T, Schotz MC, Sparkes RS, Lusis AJ (December 1991). "Assignment of human pancreatic lipase gene (PNLIP) to chromosome 10q24-q26". Genomics 11 (4): 1164–6. doi:10.1016/0888-7543(91)90048-J. PMID 1783385. 
  2. ^ "Entrez Gene: pancreatic lipase". 
  3. ^ Koop H (September 1984). "Serum levels of pancreatic enzymes and their clinical significance". Clin Gastroenterol 13 (3): 739–61. PMID 6207965. 

Further reading[edit]