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J Inorg Biochem. 2013 Mar;120:8-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2012.11.006. Epub 2012 Dec 3.

Insulino-mimetic and anti-diabetic effects of zinc.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular Signaling, Montreal Diabetes Research Center, Research Center - Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) and Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H1W 4A4.


While it has long been known that zinc (Zn) is crucial for the proper growth and maintenance of normal biological functions, Zn has also been shown to exert insulin-mimetic and anti-diabetic effects. These insulin-like properties have been demonstrated in isolated cells, tissues, and different animal models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Zn treatment has been found to improve carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in rodent models of diabetes. In isolated cells, it enhances glucose transport, glycogen and lipid synthesis, and inhibits gluconeogenesis and lipolysis. The molecular mechanism responsible for the insulin-like effects of Zn compounds involves the activation of several key components of the insulin signaling pathways, which include the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/protein kinase B/Akt (PKB/Akt) pathways. However, the precise molecular mechanisms by which Zn triggers the activation of these pathways remain to be clarified. In this review, we provide a brief history of zinc, and an overview of its insulin-mimetic and anti-diabetic effects, as well as the potential mechanisms by which zinc exerts these effects.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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