Protease (proteinase, peptidase) is a proteolytic enzyme. It is responsible for the hydrolysis of peptide bonds between amino acids in proteins. Protease is released as a biologically inactive proenzyme which is activated in the gastrointestinal lumen.
Protease is not a single compound. It is a large group of 500 various proteases. They can be classified by e.g. the pH in which they are active (acid, neutral and basic) and catalytic mechanisms (serine, threonine, cysteine, spartic and glutamic proteases and metalloproteases).
The role of proteases in human life is not only restricted to digestive processes. They are also involved in the process of growth, maturation and ageing of the body. They play a major function in the growth and spread of pathogenic microorganisms and that is why protease inhibitors are effective in the treatment of many diseases.
In supplementation, proteases are used most frequently to promote the digestion of protein products. They are added to preparations with digestive enzyme blends or protein-rich supplements. What is more, these enzymes are a popular ingredient of formulations for combating the biofilm, formed by pathogenic bacteria in the body.