Types of Enzymes | Their Essential Role in the Body

Enzymes are bio-catalysts or organic catalysts present in living cells.

They regulate various biochemical reactions without themselves being utilized in those reactions.

They enhance a reaction due to their presence in the body.

They are involved in many physiological processes starting from digestion, excretion and even to reproduction.

Without enzymes, body physiology slows down and may lead to dysfunction.

There are many fatal disorders linked to enzyme deficiency.

Enzymes are present either in the whole body or confined few places in the body. They are present inside the cell and cell organelles. While some of them are secreted from exocrine glands for local action.

Types of enzymes

The enzymes can be differentiated into many types based on their physiological location, chemistry and also the mode of action.

Types of enzymes based on physiological location.

Systemic enzymes

Systemic enzymes are those present in almost all regions of the body.

Unlike the localized enzymes present in the digestive system or liver, these enzymes are present in every cell, tissue, and body region.

Systemic enzymes examples

  1. Proteolytic enzymes
  2. Plasmin
  3. Ceruloplasmin
  4. Alcohol dehydrogenase
  5. Cyclooxygenase (COX)
  6. ATPases
  7. Creatinine kinase
  8. Lactate dehydrogenase

Proteolytic enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes are those that help in the breakdown of proteins. These enzymes, like hydrolase and renin, are found in the blood.

Hydrolases are those that catalyze the breakdown of molecules by the addition of water molecules.


It is an enzyme formed in the kidneys and released into the blood. This helps in the regulation of blood pressure by acting on angiotensinogen protein.


This is a protease enzyme that destroys clots in the blood. This keeps clots away and avoids the chances of stroke due to blood flow blockage. This enzyme is released as plasminogen from the liver into the blood, converting to an active form called plasmin.


It is an enzyme in the plasma of blood that holds 95% of copper ions.

If it does not hold copper ions, it can lead to an imbalance in homeostasis.

Similarly, if this enzyme is overloaded with copper, it loses zinc and again leads to disorder.

Alcohol dehydrogenase

This is an enzyme that converts alcohol into an aldehyde.

It helps to break down alcohol like ethanol or methanol in the body. This enzyme destroys the alcohol and helps expel it from the body.

Cyclooxygenase synthase

Also called COX enzymes or Prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase. These are of two types COX-I and COX-II.

COX-I is constitutional, while COX-II is an inductive enzyme.

These enzymes synthesize prostaglandins from cell membranes by the use of arachidonic acid.

They are also involved in the formation of different prostaglandins. Hence, anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin inhibit COX-I and stop prostaglandin formation.

This prevents further inflammation and pain. This enzyme inhibition sometimes has untoward side effects like gastric pain.


These are a set of enzymes like adenyl-pyrophosphatase, ATP monophosphatase, triphosphates, etc.

They help in the breakdown of the ATP into ADP and thereby release energy.

Creatinine kinase

This is an enzyme found in muscles, the brain, the heart, blood and other tissues.

In muscles, it helps in the storage of energy as phosphocreatine.

Lactate dehydrogenase

This is found in almost all the cells of our body.

It helps in the conversion of pyruvate to lactic acid to generate ATP.

This is especially an anaerobic way of energy production for the cells.

These are the set of enzymes present in the whole body.

Local enzymes

These are the enzymes that produce their effect only at certain parts of the body.

Like hormones, they are formed inside some specific glands and then secreted nearby for physiological action. Ex: pancreatic enzymes. But unlike systemic enzymes, they can be substituted externally in case of deficiency. Ex: Digestive enzymes.

In case of deficiency, similar digestive enzymes obtained from other sources can be administered for therapeutic effect.

Ex: Papain is isolated from papaya fruit by enzyme immobilization technique and used to enhance digestion.

Types of Enzymes based on chemistry

These are of two types as
1. Simple enzymes

2. Complex enzymes

Simple enzymes are those which are made of only a protein part and nothing else.
Ex: digestive enzymes like amylase, pepsin, etc.

Complex enzymes are those which have a protein part and also a non-protein part. The non-protein part plays a key role in the action of enzymes besides protein. The protein part is called apo-enzyme and the non-protein part is a prosthetic group. The prosthetic group can be an inorganic part like Zn, Cu, etc., which is called a co-factor. The prosthetic group that contains an organic group (ex: vitamin B3 etc.) is called a co-enzyme.

But the modern classification is based on the International Union of Biochemists.

Types of enzymes based on their function:

Enzymes are briefly classified based on the reaction they are involved.

1) Oxido-reductases

They catalyze oxidation-reduction reactions.

There is either addition of hydrogen (reduction), electron or there is removal of oxygen (oxidation).

Also, it can be an addition of oxygen moiety (oxidation) or removal of oxygen moiety (reduction).

Ex: alcohol dehydrogenase catalyzes the following reaction.

Acetaldehyde+ NADH2—————->Ethyl alcohol + NAD.

2) Hydrolases

They bring about hydrolysis of substances by the addition of water. i.e., they bring about the breakdown by the addition of water molecules.

Ex: glucose-6-phosphatase

Glucose-6-phosphate + H2O ———–> Glucose + phosphoric acid.

These are of specific types like

a) Carbohydrases

These enzymes hydrolyze carbohydrates.

Sucrose———-sucrase——–> Glucose + fructose.

b) Esterases

These enzymes hydrolyze lipids.

oil/ fats—————–lipase——-> glycerol+ fatty acids.

c) Proteases

These are the enzymes that hydrolyze proteins.

Protein————trypsin———–>polypeptides+amino acids.

3) Ligases

These enzymes catalyze the formation of bonds. They are also called synthetases.

Ex: Acetyl CoA (vit-B5)

ATP+ acetic acid+ CoA——————>AMP+P-Acetyl CoA

4) Lyases

These enzymes bring about lysis (breakage) of double bonds. They remove groups from double bonds.

Pyruvic acid ——————–> Actaldehyde + CO2.

5) Transferases

These enzymes help in the transfer of groups.

Ex: Glucose+ ATP—glucokinase—–>Glucose-6-phosphate+ADP.

6) Isomerases

Iso-“similar,” mer-“pieces.” As the name indicates, they catalyze isomerization.

Glucose-6-phosphate ————–>Fructose-6-phosphate. In the presence of phosphoglucoisomerases.

Also read: The difference between enzymes and hormones

Which type of macromolecule is present in enzymes

Most enzymes are made of protein macromolecules.

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