Zinc may hold key to fighting liver disease

June 1, 2017, Westmead Institute for Medical Research
Associate Professor Golo Ahlenstiel and Doctor Scott Read from the Westmead Institue in Sydney have shown that serum zinc may benefit liver disease in a way we never expected. Credit: The Westmead Institute for Medical Research

New research from the Westmead Institute's Storr Liver Centre in collaboration with the Centre for Virus Research and Kirby Institute has shown that serum zinc may benefit liver disease in a way we never expected.

The study, led by Dr Scott Read and Associate Professor Golo Ahlenstiel, demonstrated that zinc naturally inhibits the inflammatory and antiviral effects of interferon lambda 3 (IFN-λ3), a protein strongly associated with tissue damage in .

Lead author of the study, Dr Read, said the study provides the first evidence that zinc can act as a potent and specific inhibitor of IFN-λ3 in the context of viral infections such as hepatitis C and influenza.

"We have demonstrated that zinc inhibits numerous facets of the liver's immune response to viruses that may be mediated by IFN-λ3."

"Zinc interferes with IFN-λ3 binding to the interferon lambda receptor, which results in decreased antiviral activity and increased viral replication both in vitro and in vivo.

"Interestingly, zinc also blocks the inflammatory activity of IFN-λ3, which has been strongly linked to accelerated progression to liver cirrhosis in viral and non-viral .

"Our data suggests that serum zinc levels in patients with chronic hepatitis C are genetically predetermined by the IFN-λ3 polymorphism, confirming the inhibitory role of zinc in vivo.

"The data highlights the potential for to be used as a simple and effective treatment against acute and chronic inflammation in the ," Dr Read concluded.

Associate Professor Ahlenstiel and his team are now working towards a therapeutic intervention for IFN-λ3-mediated chronic .

This research was published online in Nature Communications.

Explore further: Zinc acetate lozenges may increase the recovery rate from the common cold by threefold

More information: Scott A. Read et al, Zinc is a potent and specific inhibitor of IFN-λ3 signalling, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15245

Related Stories

Zinc acetate lozenges may increase the recovery rate from the common cold by threefold

May 11, 2017
According to a meta-analysis of three randomized controlled trials zinc acetate lozenges may increase the rate of recovery from the common cold three fold. On the fifth day, 70% of the zinc lozenge patients had recovered ...

Common cold duration is shortened similarly by zinc acetate and zinc gluconate lozenges

May 3, 2017
There is no significant difference between zinc acetate lozenges and zinc gluconate lozenges regarding their efficacy in shortening the duration of common colds according to a meta-analysis published in Journal of the Royal ...

Zinc supply affects cardiac health

April 18, 2017
In addition to essential metabolic functions, the level of zinc in the body also affects the heart muscle. When oxidative stress occurs, it may be due to a shortage of zinc, which can be determined by examining the heart ...

A link between zinc transport and diabetes

September 24, 2013
Individuals with a mutation in the gene encoding a zinc transporter, SLC30A8 have an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Insulin granules that are released from pancreatic β cells contain high levels of zinc; however, ...

Zinc levels may predict worse outcomes with alopecia

July 10, 2015
(HealthDay)—Lower serum zinc levels are associated with worse outcomes in patients with alopecia areata, according to a study published online July 3 in the International Journal of Dermatology.

Eight ways zinc affects the human body

July 21, 2014
Researchers identified zinc as one of the most important essential trace metals in human nutrition and lifestyle in a new review article in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, published by the Institute ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in designing a better Salmonella vaccine

September 24, 2018
UC Davis researchers announce in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week a breakthrough in understanding which cells afford optimal protection against Salmonella infection—a critical step in developing ...

Antifungal agent found to be possible treatment for porphyria

September 24, 2018
A large team of researchers from Spain, France and the U.S. has found that a common antifungal agent might be useful as a treatment for a rare type of porphyria. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational ...

New findings on the muscle disease Laing early-onset distal myopathy

September 24, 2018
New avenues are now being opened toward treatment of Laing distal myopathy, a rare disorder that causes atrophy of the muscles in the feet, hands and elsewhere. In a study published in the journal PNAS, researchers have identified ...

Insulin shows great potential against chronic colitis

September 24, 2018
Diabetes is not the only disease on which insulin has an effect, it appears. In a new study using tests on mice, researchers from the University of Copenhagen, among others, have discovered a new method for treating chronic ...

A new approach to developing a vaccine against vivax malaria

September 21, 2018
A novel study reports an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study led by Hernando A. del Portillo and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, ...

Pre-clinical success for a universal flu vaccine offers hope for third generation approach

September 21, 2018
Researchers from the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology have demonstrated pre-clinical success for a universal flu vaccine in a new paper published in Nature Communications.

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.