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Pancreatic lipase

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noun, plural: pancreatic lipases

A pancreatic enzyme that splits dietary fats by hydrolyzing triacyglycerol substrates


Lipases are water-soluble enzymes that act by catalyzing the hydrolysis of lipids. Through hydrolysis, the lipase can degrade lipids into glycerol and free fatty acids. In animals, lipases are produced to aid in the digestion of lipid-containing diet. They are secreted by digestive organs such as liver and pancreas. For instance, the pancreas secretes pancreatic lipase. Mutation in a particular gene resulting in the deficiency of this enzyme may lead to conditions such as hypercholesterolaemia and hypertriglyceridemia.

The pancreatic lipase (also referred to as pancreatic triacylglycerol lipase) is the fat-splitting enzyme secreted by the pancreas. It hydrolyzes triacylglycerol (triglyceride) to produce simpler glyceride unit and a fatty acid anion. In humans, it is the primary lipase that breaks down dietary fats and it is encoded by the PNLIP gene.

The pancreatic lipase is essential as it speeds up the conversion of dietary triglyceride substrates such as in oils into monoglycerides and free fatty acids (with the presence of water molecules): Triacylglycerol + 2 H2O ↔ 2-monoacylglycerol + 2 fatty acids anions

Optimal activity of this enzyme during the digestion of dietary lipids is reached when a protein co-enzyme, colipase, is present in the duodenum.


  • triacylglycerol lipase
  • steapsin
  • tributyrase
  • tributyrinase

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