: a crystallizable protease that in an acid medium digests most proteins to polypeptides (as by dissolving coagulated egg albumin or causing casein to precipitate from skim milk), that is secreted by glands in the mucous membrane of the stomach of higher animals, and that in combination with dilute hydrochloric acid is the chief active principle of gastric juice
: a preparation containing pepsin obtained as a powder or scales from the stomach especially of the hog and used especially as a digestant
Powerful enzyme in gastric juice (seestomach) that partially digests proteins in food. Glands in the stomach lining make pepsinogen, a zymogen (enzyme precursor) converted to pepsin by the hydrochloric acid in gastric juice. Pepsin is active only in the acid environment of the stomach (pH 1.5–2.5 or less); it is ineffective in the intestine (pH 7, neutral). It is used commercially in some cheese making, in the leather industry to remove hair and residual tissue from hides, and in the recovery of silver from discarded photographic films by digesting the gelatin layer that holds the silver.