Disaccharide digestion and maldigestion.Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1996; 216:111-21SJ
All food carbohydrates are hydrolysed to monosaccharides before transport across the microvillus membrane. The digestion of disaccharides and some oligosaccharides is undertaken by a number of small intestinal brush border enzymes: sucrase-isomaltase, lactase phlorizinhydrolase, maltase-glycoamylase and trehalase. The distribution of the enzymes in the small intestine has been investigated. Different disaccharide maldigestion syndromes have been described. Lactase deficiency in adults is a condition found in the majority of inhabitants of the world. However, the prevalence varies widely between different populations. Sucrase-isomaltase deficiency is a very rare congenital condition except in Greenland. Trehalose maldigestion is likewise rare outside Greenland. Different hypotheses regarding the molecular background of the maldigestion syndromes are discussed.