Document Detail

The molecular basis of lactose intolerance.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19960866     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
A staggering 4000 million people cannot digest lactose, the sugar in milk, properly. All mammals, apart from white Northern Europeans and few tribes in Africa and Asia, lose most of their lactase, the enzyme that cleaves lactose into galactose and glucose, after weaning. Lactose intolerance causes gut and a range of systemic symptoms, though the threshold to lactose varies considerably between ethnic groups and individuals within a group. The molecular basis of inherited hypolactasia has yet to be identified, though two polymorphisms in the introns of a helicase upstream from the lactase gene correlate closely with hypolactasia, and thus lactose intolerance. The symptoms of lactose intolerance are caused by gases and toxins produced by anaerobic bacteria in the large intestine. Bacterial toxins may play a key role in several other diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and some cancers. The problem of lactose intolerance has been exacerbated because of the addition of products containing lactose to various foods and drinks without being on the label. Lactose intolerance fits exactly the illness that Charles Darwin suffered from for over 40 years, and yet was never diagnosed. Darwin missed something else--the key to our own evolution--the Rubicon some 300 million years ago that produced lactose and lactase in sufficient amounts to be susceptible to natural selection.
Anthony K Campbell; Jonathan P Waud; Stephanie B Matthews
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Science progress     Volume:  92     ISSN:  0036-8504     ISO Abbreviation:  Sci Prog     Publication Date:  2009  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-12-07     Completed Date:  2010-02-04     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0411361     Medline TA:  Sci Prog     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  241-87     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Immunology, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF14 XN, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Carbohydrate Sequence
Intestinal Diseases / enzymology,  genetics,  metabolism*
Lactase / genetics,  metabolism*
Lactose / metabolism*
Lactose Intolerance / enzymology,  genetics,  metabolism*
Molecular Sequence Data
Grant Support
/075897/Z/04/Z//Wellcome Trust
Reg. No./Substance:
63-42-3/Lactose; EC

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