Tips Enzymes: Functions of Pepsin in Digestion

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Tips Enzymes: Functions of Pepsin in Digestion
Tips Enzymes: Functions of Pepsin in Digestion - Digestion occurs in all mammals, including humans. There are several steps that occur in the process of digestion.

Each process generally involves a certain digestive enzymes.

Most of the digestive enzymes found in the mouth, while others are found in the intestines.

Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that has a unique function in the digestion of food.


Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that is released in the stomach as pepsinogen. Hydrochloric acid stimulates pepsinogen release.

When pepsinogen exposed to hydrochloric acid in the stomach, pepsinogen turns into pepsin.


Pepsin main function is to break down the protein found in many foods such as meat and eggs into smaller fragments (polypeptides).

However, the protein must be ingested in order to be absorbed by the body back. Further digestion process occurs in the intestinal polypeptide with the help of other digestive enzymes.


Some people think that the hydrochloric acid that breaks down proteins in the stomach. In fact, hydrochloric acid does two things.

First, change the protein bond - called denaturization, thus binding the protein to be exposed. Second, hydrochloric acid convert pepsinogen into pepsin.

Exposed protein binding coupled with pepsin allows the protein is broken down into polypeptides.

Thus, hydrochloric acid does help digestion, but does not break down the protein in food.

Pepsin antacids and Function

Pepsin requires a low pH level in order to function optimally. On the other hand, antacids actually increase stomach acid pH to levels that are not optimal for pepsin.

Because pepsin is needed to break down proteins into polypeptides, long-term use of antacids can be dangerous because it inhibits the process of protein digestion.

In addition, some food allergies are also linked to only partially digested proteins into the intestinal wall.

Antacids reduce the effectiveness of pepsin, thereby increasing the amount of partially digested proteins to the colon.

That is why, it is recommended not to use antacids in the long term without a doctor's supervision.


Pepsin was found in 1836 by Theodor Schwann. In 1929, pepsin successfully crystallized by a scientist named John Northrop.