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

August 29, 2013, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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."

Explore further: Lethal stings from the Australian box jellyfish could be treated with zinc

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

Related Stories

Lethal stings from the Australian box jellyfish could be treated with zinc

December 12, 2012
Box jellyfish of the Chironex species are among the most venomous animals in the world, capable of killing humans with their sting. Their venom, though, which kills by rapidly punching holes in human red blood cells, can ...

Zinc supplementation does not protect young African children against malaria

November 22, 2011
A study led by Hans Verhoef, a researcher at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and published in this week's PLoS Medicine shows that supplementing young Tanzanian ...

Pneumonia wonder drug: Zinc saves lives

February 8, 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 deficiency mechanism linked to aging, multiple diseases

October 1, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A new study has outlined for the first time a biological mechanism by which zinc deficiency can develop with age, leading to a decline of the immune system and increased inflammation associated with many ...

Zinc lozenges may shorten common-cold duration

July 26, 2011
Depending on the total dosage of zinc and the composition of lozenges, zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.