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Mech Ageing Dev. 2006 Jun;127(6):517-25. Epub 2006 Mar 2.

Nutrient-gene interaction in ageing and successful ageing. A single nutrient (zinc) and some target genes related to inflammatory/immune response.

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Immunology Ctr. (Section: Nutrition, Immunity and Ageing), Research Department INRCA, Via Birarelli 8, 60121 Ancona, Italy.


In this paper, we reviewed data regarding to the pivotal role played by the zinc-gene interaction in affecting some relevant cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-alpha) and heat shock proteins (Hsp70-2) in ageing, successful ageing (nonagenarians) and in some age-related diseases (atherosclerosis and infections). The polymorphisms of the genes codifying these proteins are predictive on one hand in longevity, such as IL-6 -174G/C locus, on the other hand 1267 Hsp70-2A/B or TNF-alpha -308G/A polymorphisms are associated to worsening atherosclerosis or severe infections, respectively, rather than longevity. Taking into account that longevity has a strong genetic component but, at the same time, is affected by life style and environmental factors, the analysis of these polymorphisms in association to some immune parameters (NK cell cytotoxicity) and nutritional factors (zinc) is a useful tool to unravel the role played by these genetic factors in longevity and in the appearance of age-related diseases. Indeed, these polymorphisms are associated with chronic inflammation, low zinc ion bioavailability, depressed innate immune response and high gene expression of metallothioneins, which have a limited zinc release for an optimal innate immune response in ageing. Therefore, the nutrient (zinc)-gene (IL-6, TNF-alpha and Hsp70-2) interaction is pivotal to keep under control the inflammatory/immune response with subsequent longevity, indicating these genes as "robust" for "healthy ageing".

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