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Acid phosphatase is a phosphatase, a type of enzyme, used to free attached phosphate groups from other molecules during digestion. It is basically a phosphomonoesterase. It is stored in lysosomes and functions when these fuse with endosomes, which are acidified while they function; therefore, it has an acid pH optimum.

Different forms of acid phosphatase are found in different organs, and their serum levels are used as a diagnostic for disease in the corresponding organs. For example, elevated prostatic acid phosphatase levels may indicate the presence of prostate cancer.

Reference ranges for blood tests, showing acid phosphatase in red at left.

Acid phosphatase catalyzes the following reaction at an optimal pH below 7:

Orthophosphoric monoester + H2O → alcohol + H3PO4

Phosphatase enzymes are also used by soil microorganisms to access organically bound phosphate nutrients. An assay on the rates of activity of these enzymes may be used to ascertain biological demand for phosphates in the soil.

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