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Int J Colorectal Dis. 2011 Mar;26(3):295-301. doi: 10.1007/s00384-010-1070-y. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

Balancing zinc deficiency leads to an improved healing of colon anastomosis in rats.

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  • 1Department of Vascular Surgery, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Pauwelsstr 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany.



In colorectal surgery, anastomotic leakage is a relevant complication. The aim of this study was to investigate whether intraperitoneally (i.p.) administered zinc improves the healing of colon anastomosis in rats.


Male Wistar rats (66) received zinc-deficient diet for 21 days. To determine the effective dose of zinc which is necessary to compensate this deficiency, preliminary analysis in 30 rats were performed. In these rats, analysis by atom-absorption spectrophotometry revealed a dose of 1.0 mg zinc aspartate/kg body weight to be the compensatory dosage. In the remaining zinc-deficient rats (n= 36), a transverse colonic anastomosis was performed. Eighteen rats received either a zinc supplementation i.p. or 0.9% NaCl i.p. (n = 18; control group). On postoperative days 3, 5, and 14, the surface of the mucosal villi, expression of MMP 2, MMP 8, MMP 13, TIMP 1, as well as the collagen types I/III ratio were analyzed.


Protein expression of MMP 2 and MMP 8 was significantly higher in the anastomosis of the zinc group on day 3 and on day 5. The collagen types I/III ratio was significantly increased in the zinc group on days 5 and 14.


Balancing zinc deficiency benefits wound healing of colonic anastomosis qualitatively due to an increased collagen type I/III ratio. Surprisingly, these zinc supplements, however, increased the expression of MMP 2 and MMP 8 that are supposed to impair wound healing in case of an over-expression. Thus, further investigations are needed to elucidate the influence of zinc supplementation on regulation of MMPs.

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