Salivary Amylase: Digestion and Metabolic Syndrome

Curr Diab Rep. 2016 Oct;16(10):102. doi: 10.1007/s11892-016-0794-7.


Salivary amylase is a glucose-polymer cleavage enzyme that is produced by the salivary glands. It comprises a small portion of the total amylase excreted, which is mostly made by the pancreas. Amylases digest starch into smaller molecules, ultimately yielding maltose, which in turn is cleaved into two glucose molecules by maltase. Starch comprises a significant portion of the typical human diet for most nationalities. Given that salivary amylase is such a small portion of total amylase, it is unclear why it exists and whether it conveys an evolutionary advantage when ingesting starch. This review will consider the impact of salivary amylase on oral perception, nutrient signaling, anticipatory metabolic reflexes, blood sugar, and its clinical implications for preventing metabolic syndrome and obesity.

Keywords: AMY1 copy number variation; Glucose homeostasis; Insulin; Metabolic syndrome; Salivary amylase; Starch digestion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amylases / physiology*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Saliva / enzymology*
  • Starch / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Starch
  • Amylases