Difference Between Salivary and Pancreatic Amylase

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Salivary and Pancreatic Amylase

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The human anatomy and its biomechanics are wonderful! We still are discovering thousands of new facts every year, despite the wide books printed already! The accuracy and precision with which our body performs it are really commendable. Thousands of processes are taking place in your body right now, just as the moment you are reading this article too. 

These functions are called involuntary functions, which do not require an individual’s attention per se. One such function is of that digestion, which takes place without one being conscious of the process even during your sleep. 

The process of digestion is facilitated by a lot of glands and, enzymes hormones performing synchronically in the most precise form imaginable to the human mind. One of those enzymes is amylase, which is a digestive enzyme. It is secreted by two separate glands, the Salivary and the Pancreas. Despite their origin in these glands, the hormones produced by them are found throughout the body in minute quantities. 

Hence making it easier to test the presence of these hormones.

Amylase is the first enzyme to be discovered and studied in the history of the human physiological study. You can still find the shreds of evidence of this in older books, by the name “diastase”. This term, although rudimentary is still used in many medical and biological books to date.

Learning about the properties of this enzyme, Amylase is a hydrolytic enzyme, which means that it is responsible for breaking down complex particles into simple ones which could be used and absorbed easily into the body. If we go into specific detail about its working, its main function is the hydroxylation of glycosidic bonds of the starch molecules. This process helps in the conversion of starch into simple molecules, which is easily and readily used by our body as an instant source of energy. Amylases digest starch into smaller molecules, ultimately yielding maltose, which in turn is cleaved into two glucose molecules by maltase.

Talking about classification of amylase molecules can be broadly classified into 3 types; alpha, beta, and gamma amylase. These act on different parts altogether, the alpha-amylase has the broadest presence in humans, plants, microbes, and animals. The beta variant is present in plants and microbes only. The gamma type, however, is found in plants and animals only. Since we have seen that in humans, only the alpha type is present, we will focus on reading the alpha type in this article. Consider the amylase mentioned further in the text as the alpha-amylase only.

The accurate concentration of any hormone or enzyme is very important to maintain the state of hemostasis, similar is the case with this hormone. The exact quantity of amylase is required and if the concentration increase or decreases, many problems are observed in the human body. Albeit raised amylase or hyperamylasemia is principally seen in salivary and pancreatic conditions, it might likewise be seen in various infections, including gastrointestinal illnesses, long-term malignancies, and gynecological infections. Talking about the decreased concentration of this enzyme, Decreased amylase levels are often visible in toxemia, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease. Raised amylase should be visible in an assortment of conditions, including pancreatic illness, salivary diseases, diminished metabolism, gastrointestinal infection, and macroamylasemia. A persistent increase in the quantity of amylase may likewise be found in an intriguing condition called Benign Pancreatic Hyperenzymemia or Gullo's disorder.

Salivary vs. Pancreatic Amylase

In this section, we are going to study the key differences between the two enzymes, the Salivary and the Pancreatic Enzymes. 

The key difference between salivary amylase and pancreatic amylase is the site of action of these enzymes. Salivary glands produce salivary amylase into the mouth and initiate carbohydrate digestion while the pancreas produces pancreatic amylase into the small intestine and completes carbohydrate digestion. Talking about similarities of these two enzymes, Both Salivary and pancreatic amylase are enzymes and hence are proteins. Both enzymes' primary function is to act on carbohydrates, hence aiding in the digestion of our food. During the process of digestion, the main function of both is the breakage of the glycosidic bond between sugar molecules, hence converting complex carbohydrate polymers into simple sugars. Salivary and pancreatic amylases are similar, they are encoded by different genes (AMY1 and AMY2, respectively) and show different levels of activity against starches of various origins. 

One of the major differences between the two is that Salivary Amylase and Pancreatic Amylase are two different types of amylases. These come in the same class of enzyme, however, the site of action of both of them is different, the physical properties being almost the same. However, the catalyst and the physical conditions required for the optimal functioning of both of these hormones are quite different and are discussed in the tabular form discussed below.

Difference Between Salivary and Pancreatic Enzyme in Tabular Form

Parameter of comparison Salivary amylase Pancreatic Amylase
Definition of enzyme: An enzyme that is released and functions exclusively in the Oral Cavity.


An enzyme that is released and functions primarily in the Pancreas.
Site of production of enzyme:  Salivary Gland Pancreatic Gland
Site of action of the enzyme:


Mouth Gastrointestinal: Stomach and small intestine.
The primary raw material: The raw form of carbohydrate Digest partially digested carbohydrates after entering the stomach. 
pH condition required for the optimal performance of function:


It acts on a neutral or faintly acidic medium. ( approximately 6.8) It acts on an alkaline medium.
Action on the food particle:


Acts on bolus  Acts on chyme.


Chemical reactions taking place within the body: It acts on the α-1,4 glycosidic bond.


It works on α-1,4 glycosidic and α-1,6 glycosidic linkage.

What Is Salivary Amylase?

Having learned about the basics of both of these enzymes, lets us dive into some details of the hormone Salivary Amylase. Salivary amylase is a glucose-polymer cleavage compound that is delivered by the salivary glands. Saliva plays numerous essential parts in advancing health conditions, including safeguarding the oral cavity and working with the process of mastication and gulping of food. Within the mouth, saliva hydrates mucosal tissues, eliminates the useless and waste cell and food debris, buffers oral pH, lubricates the oral cavity supports rumination and forestalling dental wear, structures food bolus to help to gulp, safeguards against teeth demineralization, has antimicrobial movement, and forestalls contaminations, and safeguarding wounds while stimulating healing. Additionally, salivation contains an enormous number of proteins engaged with lipase, peptidase, and hydrolase enzymes. Studies have proved time and again that saliva plays a significant physiologic part in food absorption. The most abundant protein in human saliva is the gastrointestinal enzyme α-amylase. This compound breaks down large starch particles into dextrin and along these lines into smaller particles called isomaltooligosaccharides (MOS) containing α-D-(1,4) linkages, isomaltooligosaccharides (IMOS) containing α-D-(1,6) linkages, trisaccharide maltotriose, and the disaccharide maltose. Glucose will then, at that point, be created from maltose utilizing the activity of disaccharide compounds, for example, maltase.

Salivary amylase has a generally short contact time with starch. When a food bolus is gulped and penetrated with gastric juice, its catabolic activity is generally reduced because of the low acidic pH. Studies have shown that an impressive amount of starch hydrolysis happens inside the oral cavity within one second in the oral cavity. The process happens so quickly, changing the thick surface of starch into a semiliquid form of a bolus. This difference in the surface itself impacts starch processing, tangible inclinations, and starch consumption. This theory is proved by the presence of small quantities of MOS in the oral cavity after the process of eating food.

The enzyme is found in many herbivores, and omnivores animals. The obligates carnivores are generally devoid of this enzyme, for example, cats are present without salivary amylase in their oral cavity. Humans feed on a variety of food items, viz grains, fruits, and herbs, needing more of the AMY1 gene, hence making the need for salivary amylase a necessity in the process of digestion. The high AMY1 gene is found to be richly present in the species whose ancestors were predominantly starch consuming. 

What Is Pancreatic Amylase?

Let us learn about the details of the Pancreatic enzyme, a hormone that is crucial for the process of digestion to take place. Pancreas is a triangular organ, that reaches out across the midsection and sits somewhere near the stomach. It secretes numerous enzymes that assist in the digestion of significant types of food groups. These compounds are delivered into the duodenum alongside a huge centralization of bicarbonates, which are liable for alkalinizing the acidic idea of the chyme, the food that streams into the small digestive system. Chyme= Partially processed food mass dropped of the stomach. Pancreatic amylase is the second kind of amylase that follows up on starches. As the name refers to, the pancreas produces pancreatic amylase. This process takes place in the Basic medium. The pancreas secretes pancreatic amylases into the stomach and small digestive system to process somewhat processed starches. These amylases complete the sugar digestion, into simpler and absorbable glucose molecules. 

Difference Between Salivary and Pancreatic Amylase in Points

Having looked into the details of both the enzymes, the differences, and similarities are also discussed in the previous sections of this article. Now let us learn about the key highlight differences between the two enzymes:

  • Salivary Amylase: An enzyme that is released and functions exclusively in the Oral Cavity. Pancreatic Enzyme: An enzyme that is released and functions primarily in the pancreas. As the name suggests, Salivary Amylase functions with the saliva, in the buccal cavity, similarly, Pancreatic amylase works with the pancreatic enzymes.
  • The primary difference lies in the site of action of both hormones: The site of Action of the Salivary Amylase is the Oral Cavity or the mouth, whereas the site of action of the Pancreatic enzyme is the initial portion of the small intestine.
  • An optimal pH value is required for the accurate and precise functioning of both of the enzymes. Salivary Amylase works optimally in the neutral to slightly acidic medium, with a pH of 6.8, whereas, Pancreatic amylase work best in the Alkaline medium.
  • As the site of action of both of these enzyme’s changes, so does the nature of the food particle. The food particle is rawer in the starting, and it gets simpler, softer as it passes down the alimentary canal. Owing to this, Salivary amylase acts on the bolus or the churned food that is mixed with saliva. Pancreatic amylase works on Chyme, a semifluid mass of food, which is partially digested food formed in the stomach and intestine during the process of digestion.
  • As it is a hydrolytic enzyme, the primary function of both of the enzymes is breaking down complex carbohydrates into simpler sugar molecules, which are easily absorbed and utilized in the body. Salivary amylase is responsible for cleaving the α-1,4 glycosidic bond, whereas Pancreatic amylase cleaves both, the α-1,4 glycosidic and α-1,6 glycosidic bond.


Nature is wonderful, and so are the wonderful anatomical and physiological systems running continuously and precisely inside our bodies, The body is made up of a variety of enzymes, catalysts, and reactions working simultaneously inside the human body. One such enzyme is Amylase, also known as ptyalin. The micro molecule is responsible for providing our bodies with glucose and hence providing energy whenever required by the body. The function is performed by breaking down complex carbohydrates into simpler and absorbable products of glucose. The two enzymes are primarily responsible for this function, the salivary amylase, and pancreatic amylase. The former is responsible for cleaning the α-1,4 glycosidic bond, whereas Pancreatic amylase cleaves both, the α-1,4 glycosidic and α-1,6 glycosidic bond. The mode of action and the quantity of hormone released by these two are different, and hence they are studied differently. Hope through this article, you understood the difference, the similarities shared between the two, the individual functions of the two hormones, and the mode of action and the final result produced due to their presence in the body.



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