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Toxicology. 2002 Jun 14;175(1-3):223-34.

Dietary zinc deficiency induced-changes in the activity of enzymes and the levels of free radicals, lipids and protein electrophoretic behavior in growing rats.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Studies, Institute of Graduate Studies and Research, Alexandria University, 163 Horreya Avenue, P.O. Box 832, Alexandria 21526, Egypt.


Zinc (Zn) is an essential nutrient that is required in humans and animals for many physiological functions, including immune and antioxidant function, growth and reproduction. The present study was conducted to investigate the effects of adequate Zn level (38 mg/kg diet, as a control) and two low levels that create Zn deficiencies (19 mg/kg diet, 1/2 of the control and 3.8 mg/kg diet, 1/10 of the control) in growing male and female rats for 10 weeks. To evaluate the effects of these levels, the concentrations of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS), biochemical parameters and protein pattern were studied. Lipid peroxidation in liver, brain and testes of rats fed Zn-deficient diet was indicated by increased TBARS. Serum, liver, brain and testes glutathione S-transferase (GST) activities were significantly (P<0.05) increased in Zn-deficient rats, the effect was pronounced in rats fed the lowest level of Zn (1/10 of control). The activity of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was significantly (P<0.05) increased in liver, brain and testes, but decreased in serum in a dose-dependent manner. Zinc deficiency increased (P<0.05) liver aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activities in a dose-dependent manner, while there was no effect on the activity of these enzymes in testes. Zinc deficiency resulted in a significant (P<0.05) decrease in the activity of alkaline phosphatase (AlP) in serum and liver in a dose-dependent manner, but no effect in testes was found. The activity of acid phosphatase (AcP) was not affected in serum, liver and testes. Zn-deficient rats had higher liver concentrations of total lipids (TL), cholesterol, triglyceride (TG), and low density lipoprotein (LDL), while high density lipoprotein (HDL) was significantly (P<0.05) declined in a dose-dependent manner. Brain and serum acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activities were, however, not affected (P<0.05) by Zn deficiency. Protein content in liver, brain and testes showed a significant (P<0.05) decrease in rats fed the lowest level of Zn (1/10 of control). Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (native-PAGE) of serum proteins revealed that the intensity of immunoglobulins, serum albumin as well as several peptide bands were decreased in rats fed 1/2 or 1/10 of Zn adequate, i.e. their synthesis was affected and it was pronounced with the lowest level of Zn deficiency (1/10 of control). However, no clear effect on the transferrin was observed in both cases compared to controls. From the results of this study it can be concluded that Zn deficiency exerts numerous alterations in the studied biochemical parameters, protein pattern, and increased lipid peroxidation.

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