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 damaged.

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.

Current as of: August 21, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology