Trehalase is an enzyme which hydrolyzes the disaccharide trehalose, yielding glucose. It is widespread in nature and found in various human tissues as well as in human plasma. The synthesis and degradation of its substrate trehalose have been considered as being implicated in carbohydrate transport mechanisms. Trehalase activity has been examined in both normal subjects and diabetic patients. In the normal subjects, the frequency histogram of the enzyme activity is bimodal, indicating the existence of genetic polymorphism. The proposed model of a single autosomal locus with two alleles has been verified, with 27% of the population tested belonging to the “low-activity” phenotype and 73% being of the “high-activity” phenotype. Males have higher mean plasma trehalase activity than females. Apparently, the reverse appears to be the case in the diabetic subjects. The mean value for all nondiabetics and that of diabetics were computed and the difference was found to be statistically significant (F = 7.02, N1 = 3, N2 = 56, P less than 0.01). An experiment showed that neither the abnormally high concentration of glucose in diabetics nor any other constituent of the diabetic plasma caused an increase in plasma trehalase activity (t = 0.0724, P greater than 0.10). A Woolf and Haldane test to determine association of diabetes mellitus and plasma trehalase phenotype indicated a highly significant association with the high-activity phenotype (chi 2 = 18.5350, P less than 0.01). Thus the inference is that people with high plasma trehalase activity are more prone to develop diabetes mellitus than people with low enzyme activity.
Biochemical Genetics 11/1989; 27(9-10):487-95. DOI:10.1007/BF00553626