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Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2012;4(1):10-27. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Gastrointestinal absorption and biological activities of serine and cysteine proteases of animal and plant origin: review on absorption of serine and cysteine proteases.

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GL Pharma Consulting Research & Development (GL Pharma CR&D), D-82131 Gauting/Munich Germany.


Research has confirmed that peptides and larger protein molecules pass through the mucosal barrier of the gastrointestinal tract. Orally administered serine and cysteine proteases of plant and animal origin also reach blood and lymph as intact, high molecular weight and physiologically active protein molecules. Their absorption may be supported by a self-enhanced paracellular transport mechanism resulting in sub-nanomolar concentration of transiently free protease molecules or, in a complex with anti-proteases, at higher concentrations. Data from pharmacokinetic investigations reveals dose linearity for maximum plasma levels of free proteases not unusual for body proteases and a high inter-individual variability. There is no interference with each other after oral administration of protease combinations, and absorption follows an unusual invasion and elimination kinetic due to slow velocity of absorption and a fast 100% protein binding to anti-proteases. Oral application of proteases leads to increased proteolytic serum activity and increased plasma concentrations of the corresponding anti-proteases. Their biological activity is determined by their proteolytic activity as free proteases on soluble peptides/proteins or cell surface receptors (e.g. protease activated receptors) and their activity in the complex formed with their specific and/or unspecific anti-proteases. The anti-protease-complexes, during immune reaction and injuries often loaded with different cytokines, are cleared from body fluids and tissue by receptor mediated endocytosis on hepatocytes and/or blood cells. Oral administration of enteric coated tablets containing proteolytic enzymes of plant and animal origin may be a safe method to stabilize, positively influence or enhance physiological and immunological processes during disease processes and in healthy consumers.


Gastrointestinal absorption; anti-protease; protease activated receptors; proteinase; proteolytic enzyme activity; serine and cysteine protease

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