The influence of the trace element zinc on the immune system

ArticleinLaboratoriumsMedizin 39(3) · January 2015with 351 Reads 
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Abstract
Clinical and experimental examinations showed a close relationship between zinc as an essential trace element and the immune system. Thus, cellular and humoral components from both the innate and the adaptive immune system are affected by zinc. Human zinc deficiencies are frequently connected with disturbed immune functions. Controlled zinc substitution results in a normalization of zinc serum levels, zinc homeostasis, and the immunological parameters. As shown in in vitro experiments, low zinc concentrations stimulate functional parameters of immune cells, but high zinc concentrations are suppressive or cytotoxic for these cells. Recently, the immunosuppressive effect of zinc was demonstrated in animal models of T-cell-dependent autoimmune diseases, like experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Moreover, decreased serum/plasma zinc concentrations have been detected in patients with different autoimmune diseases. Prospective studies should verify the possibility of controlled immunosuppressive zinc therapies for these diseases.

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    Full-text available
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    Full-text available
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    Full-text available
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  • Article
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  • Article
    Full-text available
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    Zinc deficiency in children and adolescents impairs their growing, development and immune system. To verify the existence of plasma and leukocyte zinc deficiency in adolescents with autoimmune hepatitis. The study comprised 23 patients with autoimmune hepatitis, aged 10-18 years, assisted at the Ambulatory Service of Pediatric Hepatology of the University of Campinas Teaching Hospital, Campinas, SP, Brazil, and adolescents with ages compatible with the patients' ages comprised the control group. Sample of blood in both groups was collected for the analyses of plasma zinc and leukocyte zinc by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, beyond the nutritional status was evaluated in each adolescent. The following statistical tests were used: Mann-Whitney, Spearman's correlation and interclass concordance analysis. The significance level adopted was 5%. The average zinc level in plasma in patients was 71.91 ± 11.79 µg/dL and, in the control group, it was 80.74 ± 10.92 µg/dL, showing a significant difference (P = 0.04). The leukocyte zinc level in patients was 222.33 ± 166.13 pmol/10⁶ cells and, in the control group, it was 226.64 ± 217.81 pmol/10⁶ cells; there was no statistical significance between them (P = 0.45). The evaluation of the nutritional status showed that eutrophy is prevalent in patients, and they presented a higher body fat value than the control group, with a significant difference. More research is needed with adolescents with autoimmune hepatitis regarding levels of essential micronutrients, such as zinc, because a good nutritional status can improve the prognostic of liver disease.
  • Article
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    Background: Zinc deficiency is commonly prevalent in children in developing countries and plays a role in decreased immunity and increased risk of infection. Preventive zinc supplementation in healthy children can reduce mortality due to common causes like diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. The main objective was to determine all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality and morbidity in children under five in developing countries for preventive zinc supplementation. Data sources/ review methods: A literature search was carried out on PubMed, the Cochrane Library and the WHO regional databases to identify RCTs on zinc supplementation for greater than 3 months in children less than 5 years of age in developing countries and its effect on mortality was analyzed.
  • Article
    The relationship between metabolic abnormalities of trace elements and insulin resistance has been established. Recent studies have revealed that insulin resistance is associated with autoimmune responses. The purpose of this study was to examine the correlation between zinc or copper metabolism and insulin resistance in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Sixteen patients with PBC were divided into two groups: early and advanced stage disease. The overall value of the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in patients with advanced stage PBC was significantly higher than that in patients with early stage PBC, although the mean value in advanced stage PBC was significantly lower than that in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver cirrhosis. There was an inverse correlation between serum zinc concentrations and HOMA-IR values in patients with PBC, while we found no correlation between serum copper levels and HOMA-IR values. HOMA-IR values were inversely associated with peripheral platelet counts, indicating the relationship between insulin resistance and hepatic fibrosis. These results suggest that zinc deficiency plays important roles of insulin resistance and subsequent hepatic fibrosis in patients with PBC, although insulin resistance in advanced stage PBC was significantly milder than that in HCV-related liver cirrhosis.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy has a negative effect on patient health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Zinc supplementation has been effective with regard to altered nitrogen metabolism. To investigate the effectiveness of oral zinc supplementation on hepatic encephalopathy and HRQOL. Seventy-nine cirrhotic patients with hepatic encephalopathy were randomized to receive 225 mg of polaprezinc in addition to standard therapies of a protein-restricted diet including branched-chain amino acid and lactulose, or to continue only standard therapies for 6 months. The change of HRQOL by Short Form-36, hepatic encephalopathy grade, laboratory parameters, and neuropsychological (NP) tests were compared at baseline and at 6 months. We also evaluated via multivariate analysis whether zinc supplementation and clinical variables correlated with the changes in physical component scale (PCS) and mental component scale (MCS) between the two visits. Zinc supplementation significantly improved the PCS (P = 0.04), but not the MCS (P = 0.95). Zinc supplementation significantly decreased hepatic encephalopathy grade and blood ammonia levels (P = 0.03 and P = 0.01), and improved Child-Pugh score and NP tests compared with standard therapy (P = 0.04 and P = 0.02). In multivariate analysis, zinc supplementation was significantly associated with improvement in PCS (P = 0.03), whereas it was not significantly associated with change in MCS (P = 0.98). Zinc supplementation is effective in hepatic encephalopathy and consequently improves patients HRQOL.
  • Article
    The aim of the present study was to measure the changes in serum selenium, zinc, and copper in patients being treated for rheumatoid arthritis. Thirty-two patients and 52 healthy controls were included in the study. The copper level was higher and those of selenium and zinc were lower in the patients relative to controls. Treatment with methotrexate elevated the zinc levels, but not zinc and selenium. Treatments with salazopyrin, corticosteroids, chloroquine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs did not change the levels of any of the elements studied. The decrease in zinc and selenium levels and elevation in copper levels observed in the patients probably resulted from the defense response of organism and are mediated by inflammatory-like substances.
  • Article
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    Information is limited on the effect of zinc on immune responses in children with diarrhea due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), the most common bacterial pathogen in children. We studied the immunological effect of zinc treatment (20 mg/d) and supplementation (10 mg/d) in children with diarrhea due to ETEC. A total of 148 children aged 6-24 mo were followed up for 9 mo after a 10-d zinc treatment (ZT; n = 74) or a 10-d zinc treatment plus 3-mo supplementation (ZT+S; n = 74), as well as 50 children with ETEC-induced diarrhea that were not treated with zinc (UT). Fifty control children (HC) of the same age group from the same location were also studied. Serum zinc concentrations were higher in both the ZT (P < 0.001) and ZT+S groups (P < 0.001) than in the UT group but did not differ from the HC group. We found higher serum complement C3 immediately after zinc administration in both ZT (P < 0.001) and ZT+S (P < 0.001) groups than in the UT group. Phagocytic activity in children in both ZT (P < 0.01) and ZT+S (P < 0.01) groups was greater than in the UT group. However, oxidative burst capacity was lower in zinc-receiving groups (ZT, P < 0.001 and ZT+S, P < 0.001) than in the UT group. The naïve:memory T cell ratio in both ZT (P < 0.05) and ZT+S (P < 0.01) groups was higher than in the UT group from d 2 to 15. Increased responses, including complement C3, phagocytic activity, and changes in T cell phenotypes, suggest that zinc administration enhances innate immunity against ETEC infection in children.
  • Article
    Zinc is essential for multiple cellular functions including immunity. Many investigators have used zinc supplementation in an attempt to affect the outcome of various diseases. These efforts were aimed at either supporting immunity by zinc administration or correcting the zinc dependent immune functions in zinc deficient individuals. In this review, recent findings of zinc supplementation in various diseases have been presented. Beneficial therapeutic response of zinc supplementation has been observed in the diarrhea of children, chronic hepatitis C, shigellosis, leprosy, tuberculosis, pneumonia, acute lower respiratory tract infection, common cold, and leishmaniasis. Zinc supplementation was effective in decreasing incidences of infections in the elderly, in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and decreasing incidences of respiratory tract infections in children. Zinc supplementation has prevented blindness in 25% of the elderly individuals with dry type of AMD. Zinc supplementation was effective in decreasing oxidative stress and generation of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-1beta in elderly individuals and patients with SCD. Zinc supplementation has been successfully used as a therapeutic and preventive agent for many conditions. Zinc functions as an intracellular signal molecule for immune cells.
  • Article
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    Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human health and has numerous structural and biochemical roles. The search for a reliable, sensitive, and specific index of zinc status has been the subject of considerable research, which has resulted in the identification of a number of potentially useful biomarkers. The objective was to assess the usefulness of biomarkers of zinc status in humans. The methods included a structured search strategy using Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE (Ovid), and the Cochrane Library CENTRAL databases; formal inclusion and exclusion criteria; data extraction into an Access database; quality and validity assessment; and meta-analysis. Data on 32 potential biomarkers from 46 publications were analyzed. Plasma zinc concentration responded in a dose-dependent manner to dietary manipulation in adults, women, men, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and those at low and moderate baseline zinc status. Urinary zinc excretion responded to zinc status overall and in all subgroups for which there were sufficient data. Hair zinc concentration also responded, but there were insufficient studies for subgroup analysis. Platelet, polymorphonuclear cell, mononuclear cell, and erythrocyte zinc concentration and alkaline phosphatase activity did not appear to be effective biomarkers of zinc status. This systematic review confirms that in healthy individuals, plasma, urinary, and hair zinc are reliable biomarkers of zinc status. Further high-quality studies using these biomarkers are required, particularly in infants, adolescents, and immigrant population groups for whom there are limited data. Studies are also required to fully assess a range of additional potential zinc biomarkers.
  • Article
    Recent years have brought a paradigm shift for the role of the essential trace element zinc in immunity. Although its function as a structural component of many enzymes has been known for decades, current experimental evidence points to an additional function of the concentration of free or loosely bound zinc ions as an intracellular signal. The activity of virtually all immune cells is modulated by zinc in vitro and in vivo. In this review, we discuss the interactions of zinc with major signaling pathways that regulate immune cell activity, and the implications of zinc deficiency or supplementation on zinc signaling as the molecular basis for an effect of zinc on immune cell function.
  • Article
    In coeliac disease (CD) there is a gluten-induced small bowel enteropathy leading to malabsorption of various nutrients, vitamins and trace elements. Low levels of serum zinc have been reported in adults with untreated CD. In the present study we related the serum concentration of zinc to the morphology of the small bowel mucosa in 58 children, all under 4 years of age and under investigation for coeliac disease. The mean serum concentration of zinc (mean ± SD; μmol/L) was significantly lower in children with untreated CD (9.7 ± 2.0) (n = 11) compared to non-coeliac children without enteropathy (15.1 ± 2.3) (n = 16) (p < 0.001), coeliac children on a gluten-free diet without enteropathy (14.2 ± 1.6) (n = 14) (p < 0.001), coeliac children on gluten challenge with enteropathy (14.1 ± 2.1) (n = 12) (p < 0.001) and coeliac children on gluten challenge without enteropathy (13.8 ± 1.9) (n = 6) (p < 0.005). Conclusion: Serum zinc concentration is decreased in untreated coeliac children with enteropathy and normalizes on gluten-free diet. A low serum zinc value in a child being investigated for possible CD on clinical grounds can thus be used as a complementary marker for enteropathy indicating further investigation with small bowel biopsy. The hypothetical role of zinc in the pathogenesis of CD is discussed.
  • Article
    Inadequate nutriture of zinc, copper and iron alter immunocompetence in humans and experimental animals. For each of these minerals deficient status leads to increased susceptibility to infectious illnesses. Specific components of the immune response may be altered in a variety of patients and models. Although many generalized functions for these nutrients could lead to altered immune function, specific functions for these minerals in immunity have not yet been identified. For zinc, copper and iron the importance of adequate nutrition in maintaining immunocompetency cannot be understated.
  • To evaluate the possible effect of zinc treatment on immune disorders in children with Down's syndrome (DS), 38 noninstitutionalized DS children were investigated. Twenty-four patients (63.2%) had plasmatic zinc levels lower than 0.70 microgram/dl ("hypozinkemic," LZn) and 14 patients (36.8%) had levels higher than 0.75 microgram/dl ("normozinkemic," NZn). No correlation was found between the zinc deficiency and recurrence and/or intensity of infections. The absolute numbers of peripheral lymphocytes, the percentages of B lymphocytes, total T cells, and serum IgG, IgA, and IgM levels did not differ between the DS children and the controls. Eight (21%) patients had CD4+ T cell counts below the lowest value for the controls. Seventeen (44%) DS patients had increased levels of CD8+ T cells. The mean percentage of Leu 7+ cells in DS subjects (22.8 +/- 12.9%) was significantly higher than that in controls (15.8 +/- 4.8%) (P less than 0.01). Notably, Ig levels and numbers of lymphocytes in each subset did not show any significant difference in NZn and LZn trisomic subjects. On the contrary the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from LZn DS children showed a significantly lower proliferative response to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) (S.I. = 23.4 +/- 22.4) than that of PBMCs from NZn DS children (S.I. = 46.1 +/- 21.5, P less than 0.01). A significant increase in DNA synthesis was obtained after oral administration of zinc sulfate (20 mg/kg/day, for 2 months). The lymphocyte response to PHA appeared to be normal in all patients up to 6 months after the end of the zinc treatment and it became low in half of the patients 22 months after therapy.
  • Article
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    Patients with liver disease may be at risk of zinc depletion. We measured polymorphonuclear cell, mononuclear cell, plasma, and erythrocyte zinc values, and erythrocyte carbonic anhydrase activity to assess zinc status in 17 patients with non-alcoholic liver disease (primary biliary cirrhosis and chronic active hepatitis) and 13 patients with alcoholic liver disease. The plasma zinc concentration was reduced in both patient groups and correlated strongly with the plasma albumin concentration. The mean polymorphonuclear cell zinc value in both groups was similar to that of controls but when results were combined and grouped according to hepatic functional reserve, patients with more severe liver damage (grade C) had a lower polymorphonuclear cell zinc value (mean (SD) 0.86 (0.24) nmol/mg protein) than patients with grade A (1.44 (0.43) nmol/mg protein, p less than 0.01) or grade B liver damage (1.08 (0.30) nmol/mg protein, p less than 0.05), or control subjects (1.26 (0.28) nmol/mg protein, p less than 0.001). The polymorphonuclear cell zinc value did not correlate with other indices of zinc status. The mononuclear cell zinc value was normal in all patients and was unrelated to hepatic damage. The erythrocyte zinc value and carbonic anhydrase activity were raised in alcoholic patients only. Since the polymorphonuclear cell zinc concentration is low in human experimental zinc deficiency and also correlates with tissue zinc, we suggest that our results provide evidence of progressive leucocyte zinc depletion in patients with liver disease.
  • Article
    Although consequences of zinc deficiency have been recognized for many years, it is only recently that attention has been directed to the potential consequences of excessive zinc intake. This is a review of the literature on manifestations of toxicity at several levels of zinc intake. Zinc is considered to be relatively nontoxic, particularly if taken orally. However, manifestations of overt toxicity symptoms (nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, lethargy, and fatigue) will occur with extremely high zinc intakes. At low intakes, but at amounts well in excess of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) (100-300 mg Zn/d vs an RDA of 15 mg Zn/d), evidence of induced copper deficiency with attendant symptoms of anemia and neutropenia, as well as impaired immune function and adverse effects on the ratio of low-density-lipoprotein to high-density-lipoprotein (LDL/HDL) cholesterol have been reported. Even lower levels of zinc supplementation, closer in amount to the RDA, have been suggested to interfere with the utilization of copper and iron and to adversely affect HDL cholesterol concentrations. Individuals using zinc supplements should be aware of the possible complications attendant to their use.
  • Article
    Growth retardation is seen in experimental animals as a result of severe dietary restriction of several essential trace elements. However, in humans, the effect of zinc deficiency is most pronounced. Growth failure and hypogonadism in males, related to a deficiency of zinc, have been recognized in many developing countries. A mild deficiency of zinc, affecting growth and development in children and adolescents, has been reported from developed countries as well. Zinc deficiency in humans may manifest as severe, moderate, or mild. The manifestations of severe zinc deficiency include bullous pustular dermatitis, alopecia, diarrhea, emotional disorder, weight loss, intercurrent infections due to cell-mediated immune dysfunctions, hypogonadism in males, neurosensory disorders, and problems with healing of ulcers. This condition can be fatal. A moderate level of zinc deficiency has been reported in a variety of conditions. Clinical manifestations include growth retardation and male hypogonadism in adolescence, rough skin, poor appetite, mental lethargy, delayed wound healing, cell-mediated immune dysfunctions, and abnormal neurosensory changes. A mild level of zinc deficiency may manifest with decreased serum testosterone level and oligospermia in males, decreased lean body mass, hyper-ammonemia, neurosensory changes, anergy, decreased serum thymulin activity, and decreased IL-2 activity. Although the clinical aspects of severe and moderate levels of zinc deficiency are well known, the recognition of mild levels of zinc deficiency has been difficult. Currently plasmas zinc appears to be the most widely used parameter for assessment of human zinc status, and it is known to be decreased in cases of severe and moderate deficiency of zinc.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
  • Article
    Measurements of weighted dietary intakes and plasma determinations of albumin, iron, zinc, ascorbic acid and TIBC were carried out on twenty female multiple sclerosis patients in a long-stay hospital for disabled people. The group included ten patients with a recent history of pressure sores, closely matched with ten patients without pressure sores. Mean daily intake of carbohydrate was found to be higher in the non-pressure sore group whilst intake of zinc was lower in this group. Intakes of all other nutrients were comparable between the two groups. For both groups, intakes of energy, folate, vitamin D, iron and zinc were less than recommended values. Mean plasma levels of albumin and iron were towards the lower limit of the normal range, whilst that for zinc was considerably less than the normal range. Plasma TIBC was slightly above the normal range. Levels of plasma iron and zinc were significantly lower in the pressure sore group. The data indicate that severely disabled hospitalized patients with multiple sclerosis may be at risk of poor nutritional status. The results suggest that in the presence of pressure sores, there are increased requirements for specific nutrients, notably zinc and iron. Consideration is given to the possible value of supplementation of these individuals.
  • Article
    The gastrointestinal tract is an important organ in the maintenance of zinc homeostasis. We determined the serum zinc level in 140 samples from 78 children with coeliac disease in different phases. Abnormally low values were found only in children with acute coeliac disease (50% below 2 SD), but not in children receiving a gluten-free diet. We therefore suggest to measure the serum zinc concentration in children with coeliac disease and to add a zinc supplementation in patients with diminished zinc values during a period of 2-4 weeks, because zinc deficiency could inhibit the recovery of the intestinal mucosa.