Lipase is a subclass of the enzyme esterase, that catalyzes the breakdown of fats to fatty acids and glycerol. The enzyme is water-soluble in nature and its hydrolysis is carried out at the ester bond. The substrates required for its action are lipids. The enzyme also plays a key role in the digestion and transportation of dietary lipids.
The Human Pancreatic Lipase (HPL) acts at a specific position in the glycerol backbone of a lipid and converts triglycerides to monoglycerides and free fatty acids. Apart from HPL, there are other types that play a vital role in different metabolic activities. These include:
- Bile salt dependent lipase
- Lysosomal lipase
- Hepatic lipase
- Lipoprotein lipase
- Endothelial lipase
- Gastric lipase
- Hormone sensitive lipase
- Lingual lipase
The normal range for this enzyme is between 7 and 60 U/L. Fluctuations in its level could give rise to certain health problems. The factors responsible for elevated levels are inflammation of the pancreas or obstruction of the pancreatic duct. Kidney failure, gallbladder infection, and intestinal tumors are also responsible for its increased level in body.
Drugs like indomethacin, morphine, and codeine may also elevate its level in the body. Loss of appetite, sweating, weakness, vomiting, nausea, chest pain, etc., are some of the symptoms of high levels of this enzyme in the body. People affected by high levels are normally prescribed with a diet that is low in fats, carbohydrates, and cholesterol.
The deficiency of this enzyme directly affects the digestive system, hampering the digestion of fats. This results in elevation of cholesterol in the body. Accumulation of triglycerides inside the body gives rise to problems associated with the cardiovascular system. Cholesterol deposition in the arteries can also increase the chances of a heart attack.
People with the deficiency of this enzyme have a tendency to develop diabetes as well. It also increases the sugar level in urine, a condition which is medically known as glycosuria. The enzyme is also needed for the metabolism of fat-soluble vitamins to prevent deficiency of vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Decreased cell permeability and varicose vein problems are the indirect effects of its deficiency.
People affected by celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn's disease could also develop the deficiency of this enzyme. The initial symptoms of its deficiency are weight gain and problems associated with the pancreas. Due to the increase in fat levels, it causes the outburst of acne and pimples. The weakening of the digestive system could also give rise to other disorders like gallstones, gallbladder stress, and cystitis. A person deficient in lipase can also develop prostate problem, hay fever, diarrhea, psorosis, or skin lipoma. Muscle spasms, arthritis, and spastic colon are other symptoms of its deficiency.
The enzyme is manufactured in the mouth and pancreas, and is not found in food. However, the enzyme can be obtained from animal and plant enzymes. Initially, supplements were manufactured from animal sources. However, the supplements with enteric coatings can give rise to side effects such as damage of the intestinal wall and malabsorption syndrome. Therefore, the supplements today are made from plant products such as sap of certain fruits, leaves, and twigs of plants. Papaya is extensively used for making supplements of this enzyme. These supplements are available either in the form of pills or powder. The dosage is determined by doctors and it is efficient in curing any health-related disorders caused due to its deficiency.
It's always advisable to balance your diet with the ideal ratio of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in order to maintain a good digestive health. Also, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplements of this enzyme to avoid any side effects.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.