Sucrase deficiency in Greenland. Incidence and genetic aspects

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1987 Jan;22(1):24-8. doi: 10.3109/00365528708991851.


The disaccharidase activities in small-intestinal surgical biopsy specimens from 97 Greenlanders were investigated. Five of the patients, or 5%, had sucrase deficiency. The diagnosis, sucrose malabsorption, was established by sucrose tolerance tests. In all parts of the world other than the arctic regions sucrase deficiency is a rare condition. The patients were divided into three separate groups in accordance with their sucrase activity. The middle group was considered to be heterozygote carriers of the sucrase-deficient gene. The number of people in the group corresponded to the theoretical number of heterozygotes in accordance with the Hardy-Weinberg equation, suggesting that sucrase deficiency is recessively inherited in a simple Mendelian fashion. Four of the five patients with sucrase deficiency had deficiency of lactase as well. The nutritional implications are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / epidemiology
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Female
  • Greenland
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sucrase / deficiency*
  • Sucrose / metabolism


  • Sucrose
  • Sucrase