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Zinc may Help to Fight Infections

by VR Sreeraman on  August 3, 2009 at 3:00 PM General Health News   - G J E 4
 Zinc may Help to Fight Infections
Zinc activates a key protein on T cells needed to fight infections, concludes a new report in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

The study suggests that zinc may be pointing the way to new therapeutic targets for fighting infections.
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Particularly, boffins from Florida found that zinc not only supports healthy immune function, but increases activation of the cells (T cells) responsible for destroying viruses and bacteria.

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"It has been shown that zinc supplementation significantly reduces the duration and severity of childhood diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, and incidence of malaria in zinc-deficient children," said report co-author, Robert Cousins, Ph.D., who also is the director of the Center for Nutritional Sciences within the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Florida.

"Age-related declines in immune function have also been related to zinc deficiency in the elderly," the expert added.

To reach eth conclusion, scientists administered either a zinc supplement or a placebo to healthy volunteers to assess the effects of zinc on T cell activation. After isolating the T cells from the blood, scientists then simulated infection in laboratory conditions.

Results showed that T cells taken from the zinc-supplemented group had higher activation than those from the placebo group.

Specifically, cell activation stimulated the zinc transporter in T cells called "ZIP8," which transports stored zinc into the cell cytoplasm where it then alters the expression of a T cell protein in a way needed to fight infections.

Source: ANI
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