Ptialina: What is it? Function, Mechanism of Action, Activity in Digestion and Recommendations

It is a form of amylase that is found in the saliva of humans and some animals. Another name for this enzyme is salivary amylase.

It is a weak enzyme but the most important amylolytic enzyme secreted in the mouth by the salivary glands. This type of amylase is found only in humans.

Ptyalin function

It is important to make two distinctions, the first is that the ptyalin enzyme is an amylase enzyme produced by the salivary glands.

The second is that the saliva produced by the human body is a product that contains several enzymes, including one of which is the enzyme ptyalin.

The role and function of this ptyalin enzyme is as a catalyst that can accelerate the process of hydrolyzing carbohydrates into simple sugars in the digestive system of food.

The role of the ptyalin enzymes is to reshape starch into simpler carbohydrate structures such as maltose. With the reorganization of the starch the enzyme ptyalin is made.

On the other hand, this enzyme makes carbohydrate can be absorbed by the body and flow through the blood throughout the body as energy that can be used for daily activities.

Unlike other types of amylase enzymes, the function of ptyalin enzymes is limited to the ability to remodel polysaccharides into maltose with shorter bonds.

The enzyme ptyalin cannot hydrolyze the disaccharide structure in simple sugars.

The ability to hydrolyze and break down short chain carbohydrate structures is performed by other digestive enzymes.

Therefore, it can be said that ptyalin enzymes can only convert carbohydrates to simple sugars at the disaccharide level.

Mechanism of action

The main function of ptyalin is to catalyze the hydrolysis of starch into maltose and dextrin.

As already explained above, the ptyalin enzyme is only produced by the salivary glands, the chamber is located in the oral cavity.

Food that enters the mouth automatically stimulates the salivary glands to produce saliva. Saliva itself is a very rich ingredient in ptyalin enzymes.

The enzyme ptyalin in saliva breaks down the carbohydrate arrangement into glucose (short chain) just as food begins to be chewed.

The reorganization process lasts long enough that sometimes, before the enzyme ptyalin completes its task, food has been swallowed down the throat.

However, the ptyalin enzyme that falls into the throat will continue to work before food enters the stomach.

The enzyme ptyalin is an enzyme that can work with a high PH that will stop its activity when entering the stomach, which in fact has a high level of acidity.

However, while working on the throat, the results and the functioning of the enzyme ptyalin can only reach a small portion of the starch present in the diet.

Most of the remaining starch will be further hydrolyzed by the amylase enzyme produced by the pancreas.

The following are the steps in the carbohydrate digestion process in the oral cavity, showing the action of ptyalin:

  • The presence of the ptyalin together with the boiled starch results in a more soluble starch.
  • Ptyalin together with soluble starch generates erythrodextrin and maltose.
  • Erythrodextrin together with maltose and ptyalin generate acrodextrin.
  • Isomaltose results from the union of acrodextrin, maltose and ptyalin.

This action of ptyalin also occurs in the stomach before the concentration of HCL (hydrochloric acid) becomes adequate.

From the above explanation, it is clear that ptyalin initiates carbohydrate digestion favorably starting from the oral cavity.

Due to the absence of lipolytic and proteolytic enzymes in saliva, the digestion of fats and proteins does not occur in the oral cavity.

Digestion process

Digestion is the process of breaking down food into smaller components, both chemically and mechanically.

In the human digestive system there are three main components:

  • The oral cavity.
  • Stomach.
  • Small intestine.

There are mainly three types of food that are digested in the human digestive tract:

  • The carbohydrates.
  • Proteins.
  • The fats.

Several enzymes act on ingested food. In this sense, all the vitalities of food are absorbed by the body.

Digested food is the source of energy to sustain the body. The leftover things are eliminated from the body in the form of feces.

Role of ptyalin in carbohydrate digestion

In the process of digesting carbohydrates, the digestive organs secrete various types of enzymes to help speed up the process of absorbing food.

The enzymes that play a role in the process of digesting carbohydrates are called carbohydrate enzymes.

Among the carbohydrate enzymes, the enzyme ptyalin and the enzyme amylase are the two enzymes with the greatest influence.

The ptyalin enzyme itself is actually the same type of enzyme as the amylase enzyme, but it works first in the oral cavity.

In turn, the enzyme amylase is produced specifically only by the pancreas.


It is possible to improve the performance of the ptyalin enzymes by chewing food longer so that the ptyalin has a chance to do its job.

The real proof that ptyalin works is the appearance of the sweetness of rice when people chew for a long time.

By chewing food slowly and gently, you optimize. mechanically the digestion process.

This strategy also makes it easier for the digestive organs to work in the next part to digest carbohydrates chemically.