Amylase is an enzyme that changes complex sugars (starches) into
simple sugars during digestion. Levels of amylase in the blood can be used to
help diagnose and monitor diseases, such as diseases of the pancreas and
salivary glands, or to determine whether the intestines have been
There are two kinds of amylase enzymes:
Alpha-amylase (ptyalin), which is produced by
the salivary glands. This enzyme begins starch digestion in the mouth and
continues to work in the stomach.
Pancreatic amylase, which is
secreted by the pancreas into the small intestine. This enzyme continues the
starch digestion process.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology