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Zinc & Inflammation

February 19, 2013

Researchers have pinpointed zinc’s role in moderating inflammation.



Unlocking zinc’s power.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in critically ill patients.  It’s a state of excess inflammation, and it’s been linked to zinc deficiency.  Now, researchers have learned why.  According to medical professor Daren Knoell, of The Ohio State University, when the immune system recognizes an infection, it triggers a defensive inflammatory response.  His team found that the same process alters cell membranes to let more zinc in – and that the zinc puts the brakes on inflammation.

DAREN KNOELL (The Ohio State University):

And so what we found was a classic negative feedback loop.  But we believe for the first time, a feedback loop of this nature that’s directly coupled to zinc metabolism.

That explains why a zinc deficit could raise the risk of a runaway immune response.  It might also help explain zinc’s unconfirmed reputation for fighting cold symptoms – a milder form of inflammation.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.