Posted on Feb 10, 2016, 6 a.m.
The mineral affects how the immune system responds to inflammation.
Zinc is a key component in over 300 enzymes utilized in the body, and the mineral is also an important structural component of many proteins, hormones, neuropeptides, and hormone receptors. Previous studies report that zinc deficiency can result in immune dysfunction. Emily Ho, from Oregon State University (Oregon, USA), and colleagues employed a mouse model to conduct experiments to assess the physiological effects of zinc deficiency. The team showed that reducing zinc caused improper immune cell activation and dysregulation of a cytokine IL-6, a protein that affects inflammation in the cell. The investigators also compared zinc levels in living mice, young and old. The older mice had low zinc levels that corresponded with increased chronic inflammation and decreased IL-6 methylation – an epigenetic mechanism that cells use to control gene expression. Observing that: “Zinc deficiency induced inflammatory response in part by eliciting aberrant immune cell activation and altered promoter methylation,” the study authors submit that: “Our results suggested potential interactions between zinc status, epigenetics, and immune function, and how their dysregulation could contribute to chronic inflammation.”
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/osu-szd032315.php Nutrition & Food Research, 17 March 2015.