health Aug 10, 2021
When working on my short film many years ago I did various test shots to capture organic like shapes by mixing together inks with milk. These were shot using a macro lens in my kitchen.
Photo by Marek Okon / Unsplash

Almost all biochemical reactions in living things occur in the presence of enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts that help to speed up biochemical reactions. They are made up of proteins.
Lipase is an enzyme that acts on fats of food and hydrolyses them into fatty acids and glycerol. In these forms the intestine can absorb them.
Lipase is produced in the pancreas, mouth and stomach. It is found in the blood, gastric juices, pancreatic secretions, intestinal juices and adipose tissues.
In addition to digestion function, it is also involved in other functions such as cell signaling and inflammation.

Lipase not only helps to break down both healthy and unhealthy fats, it also helps the body to absorb vital nutrients from the food that we eat.
Most fat digestion in adults occurs in the upper part of the small intestine and it occurs in the presence of lipase, secreted by the pancreas.
Microorganisms, such as fungi, yeast, bacteria and some animals and plants also produce lipase. Pathogenic microbes produce lipase to invade a new host body. Some lipases are also secreted in large numbers, by pathogenic organisms like Candida albicans during infection for lipolytic activity.

Fungi, Yeast and Bacteria secrete lipases to facilitate absorption of nutrients from the external medium.

Avocado, walnuts, pine nuts, coconuts, lupini beans, lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, oats and eggplant contain lipase. Raw nuts, seeds and beans also contain the enzyme but they contain enzyme inhibitors, which can block enzyme function. So, soaking and sprouting should be done before their consumption.

Certain lipases in the form of phospholipases are present in the venom of wasps and bees. They increase the effects of injury and inflammation caused by a sting.

Human dandruff is caused by a fungus, Malassezia globosa, which uses lipase to break down sebum into oleic acid and increase skin cell production causing dandruff.

Uses of lipase

  • Human Lipase not only helps break down fats, but it also helps to reorganize the entire digestion process. It also increases the nutritional value of the natural fats of healthy foods we eat.
  • Since it breaks down fat that is in the body, increasing fat digestion leads to weight Loss.
  • The common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort can also be reduced by lipase.
  • In the case of cystic fibrosis sufferers, it helps absorb more nutrients and energy from food. Thus it helps improve overall nutritional value for those suffering with cystic fibrosis.
  • Lipase helps treat Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a type of autoimmune disease characterized by an inflammatory response to gluten that damages tissue within the small intestine. Symptoms of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss and fatigue.
  • It is also useful for the maintenance of the health of gallbladder and heart. As the fats digestion function by Lipase enzyme involves the use of bile, it is also treated as an excellent natural remedy for gallbladder. Deficiency of the enzyme lipase will result in high levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood. This may lead to heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Immune functions are also increased by the activity of lipase.

Industrial uses

Historically, lipase was used in yogurt and cheese fermentation.
In more modern applications, they are used as cheap and versatile catalysts to degrade lipids.  
Recombinant lipase enzymes are used in applications such as baking, laundry detergents and as biocatalysts in alternative energy approaches to convert vegetable oil into fuel.
In biodiesel processing, high enzyme activity lipase is used instead of traditional chemical catalysts as lipase is more environment friendly, safe and makes the process less energy exhaustive.

Diagnostic use

To diagnose acute pancreatitis and other disorders of the pancreas, blood tests for lipase may be used.

Side effects

Intake of enzyme supplements may cause minor side effects such as nausea, cramping and diarrhoea. If a person is suffering from cystic fibrosis, high doses of lipase may intensify the symptoms.

Recent research revealed that fluorinated water may be responsible for the decreased activity of both pancreatic lipase and protease.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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