April 6 2015. A report published in the May 2015 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reveals how being deficient in the mineral zinc results in immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, which is involved in cardiovascular disease and other conditions.
Emily Ho of Oregon State University (OSU) and her colleagues examined the effects of zinc deficiency in cell cultures and aged mice. The team observed an increase in the responses of the cytokines interleukin 1beta and interleukin 6 following the administration of an inflammation-provoking substance to human white blood cells known as monocytes. In aged mice, zinc deficiency was also associated with an increase in interleukin 6 gene expression.
“Zinc deficiency induced inflammatory response in part by eliciting aberrant immune cell activation and altered promoter methylation,” the authors concluded. “Our results suggested potential interactions between zinc status, epigenetics, and immune function, and how their dysregulation could contribute to chronic inflammation.”
“When you take away zinc, the cells that control inflammation appear to activate and respond differently; this causes the cells to promote more inflammation,” explained Dr Ho, who is a professor and director of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Dr Ho noted that 12% of U.S. residents and nearly 40% of those 65 and older fail to obtain adequate zinc. In addition to consuming less of it, older men and women are less efficient at absorbing the mineral. “It’s a double-whammy for older individuals,” she observed.
“We think zinc deficiency is probably a bigger problem than most people realize,” Dr Ho noted. “Preventing that deficiency is important.”
Courtesy of Life Extension Magazine