Zinc (Zn) is one of the twelve transition metals in the periodic table. Zinc is an essential trace element because it is not synthesized in the body and therefore is biologically important to plants and animals.
Zinc is accountable for various bodily processes and it assists fuel the activity of 100 different enzymes.
According to studies, zinc is believed to regulate immune functions, treat diarrhea, help learning and memory, treat common cold, and even treat acne.
Low levels of zinc in the body makes a person more prone to illness and disease. Moreover, zinc deficiency is answerable for over 800,000 deaths among children worldwide annually.
Natural Health News — In cases of sepsis – a type of systemic infection – a deficiency of zinc can cause an amplified and potentially deadly immune response, according to recent research.
Ohio State University researchers have recognized a perilous immune system pathway that depends on zinc to end overproduction of an inflammatory protein that if left alone, can commence destruction of healthy cells.
An on-off switch
To aid identify genes and indicating pathways that may be affected by zinc, Daren Knoell, PharmD, PhD, a professor of pharmacy and internal medicine at Ohio State and his team executed a multifaceted genetic examination of lung tissue taken from zinc-deficient mice with sepsis. They discovered that in the existence of sepsis, various networks and pathways were affected by the zinc deficiency.
One of the most significant of these was one called the JAK-STAT3 pathway and the production of serum amyloid A (SAA) – a protein which has only recently been identified as a key player in the body’s immune response.
According to scientists, this passageway encourages the genes to continue production of this inflammatory protein. But zinc when taken in sufficient amounts controls the genes that produce the immune reaction to proteins, thus preventing destruction of healthy tissue.
A hard to treat infection
Sepsis, a complication resulting from a systemic infection, is a leading cause of death in intensive care units. As many as 20% of people who develop sepsis will die, not from the infection itself – but from the overload of inflammatory chemical signals created by the immune system which ultimately leads to organ failure.
Findings in the journal PLOS One appear to propose that zinc supplementation could benefit patients prone to sepsis. Knoell however says it’s not that easy. Identifying zinc’s part in sepsis is tough. Zinc is the most abundant mineral in the human body second to iron, acting together with as many as 10,000 proteins within the genome. It has been known that zinc is necessary to human health and the immune system, but more studies still have to be conducted to understand how zinc performs on a molecular level.
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