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J Lab Clin Med. 1991 Oct;118(4):309-16.

Ecto 5' nucleotidase (5'NT) as a sensitive indicator of human zinc deficiency.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI.


Ecto 5' nucleotidase (5'NT) is an integral plasma membrane enzyme located on most mammalian cells, and it is zinc dependent. We assayed 5'NT activity in the lymphocytes of two groups of subjects. The first group of six subjects had a mild state of zinc deficiency, as measured on the basis of zinc levels in lymphocytes, granulocytes, and platelets, but were otherwise healthy. They received 50 mg zinc as acetate orally for 12 weeks. The second six subjects were normal human volunteers in whom a mild state of zinc deficiency was induced experimentally by dietary techniques (4.2 to 5.6 mg daily zinc intake). For the assay of 5'NT, intact lymphocytes were incubated with 8-14C-labeled inosine monophosphate as substrate. Product and substrate were separated by thin-layer chromatography. Zinc level in cells was measured by flameless atomic absorption technique. In the first group of subjects with zinc deficiency, the decreased activity of 5'NT was corrected and the cellular zinc levels were normalized by oral zinc supplementation (p less than 0.01). In the second group of subjects, the baseline data were compared with those in early zinc depletion (4 to 8 weeks) and late depletion periods (greater than 20 weeks). A decrease in the activity of 5'NT was observed during the early zinc depletion phase. Zinc levels in lymphocytes, granulocytes, and platelets decreased significantly only during the late zinc depletion phase (p less than 0.01). Plasma zinc level did not change even during the late zinc depletion phase. Our studies show that 5'NT activity may be a sensitive and useful indicator of mild deficiency of zinc in human subjects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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