Potential diagnostic marker for zinc status offers insights into the effects of zinc deficiency

According to new research published in The FASEB Journal, a drop in blood zinc levels does not directly harm the blood vessel cells. Rather, zinc regulates the production of a small molecular compound, which then circulates in the blood and causes harmful blood vessel cell effects. Additionally, not only will having adequate amounts of zinc prevent the creation of this compound, but it can protect you when the compound is circulating in your blood.

"Zinc deficiency afflicts two billion people worldwide and our study has revealed a zinc-regulated small compound in blood that mediates the harmful effects of zinc deprivation," said John H. Beattie, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, U.K. "Measurement of this compound in blood may prove very valuable, not only in assessing, for example, the risk of developing heart attack or stroke, but also as a diagnostic test for zinc status."

To make this discovery, Beattie and colleagues from rat blood vessels and exposed them for 24 hours to the from rats that had been given food low or adequate in zinc. Then they examined the to identify which genes changed when exposed to blood plasma from low zinc rats. Dramatic changes in some gene activities were found when comparing blood plasma treatments from low and adequate zinc rats. Then the scientists removed the zinc from the zinc-adequate blood plasma and saw that it had no effect on gene activity, suggesting that that there was a harmful compound produced in response to and that its effects on is abolished by zinc.

"Most people might think of zinc as a kind of food supplement," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "but zinc deficiency is a serious matter. Understanding how zinc deficiency affects the body is important, not just because it can help us how to treat this deficiency, but also because it presents a new way to detect low zinc in the body that is faster and easier than current methods."

More information: Ou Ou, Keith Allen-Redpath, Dagmar Urgast, Margaret-Jane Gordon, Gill Campbell, Jörg Feldmann, Graeme F. Nixon, Claus-Dieter Mayer, In-Sook Kwun, and John H. Beattie. Plasma zinc's alter ego is a low-molecular-weight humoral factor. FASEB J September 2013 27:3672-3682, DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-228791

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pneumonia wonder drug: Zinc saves lives

Feb 08, 2012

Respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, are the most common cause of death in children under the age of five. In a study looking at children given standard antibiotic therapy, new research published in BioMed Central's ...

Zinc: The perfect material for bioabsorbable stents?

Apr 30, 2013

(Phys.org) —In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. These tiny mesh tubes prop open blood vessels healing from procedures like a balloon angioplasty, which widens ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments