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Ann Allergy. 1984 Dec;53(6 Pt 2):649-56.

Clinical significance of enzymatic deficiencies in the gastrointestinal tract with particular reference to lactase deficiency.


The study of deficiencies of small intestinal brush-border hydrolases increased our knowledge about the specific functions of hydrolases in the digestion of smaller molecules on the microvillus surface of the absorptive cells. The sucrase-isomaltase (SI) complex has been shown to be synthesized as a precursor (pro-sucrase-isomaltase) which is then incorporated into the membrane. The hydrophobic N-terminal end of the molecule is anchored in the lipid bilayer. In SI deficiency the molecular base of the disease is still not clear. Absence of SI activity could be due to complete lack of precursor synthesis or to structural changes within the N-terminal end of the SI-complex. Deficiencies of peptide hydrolases have not been reported with the exception of enteropeptidase (EP). Here a congenital deficiency of the enzyme was observed as the primary defect in enzyme synthesis within the enterocytes and as a secondary defect due to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. In contrast to the primary EP deficiency, the activity of EP can be restored in the cases of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency by treatment with pancreatic extracts. Primary lactase deficiency exists in various forms. Besides congenital lactase deficiency, the late onset or adult type of lactase deficiency has been observed. The latter occurs in many different ethnic groups around the world. Here, using gel electrophoresis and immunoelectrophoresis, the lack of enzyme activity could be shown to be a primary defect in enzyme protein synthesis. In man and in the rat, two different lactases have been identified. In contrast to adult lactase, fetal lactase contains sialic acid at the end of carbohydrate side chains.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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