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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Oct;155(1):65-71. doi: 10.1007/s12011-013-9762-0. Epub 2013 Aug 24.

Psychological stress-induced lower serum zinc and zinc redistribution in rats.

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Department of Military Hygiene, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.


In humans, long-term exposure to uncontrollable and unpredictable life stressors is a major precipitant in the development of depressive disorders. There are strong evidences that depression is accompanied by lower serum zinc. The aim of present study is to assess the effects of repeated psychological stress (PS) on the zinc metabolism in rat. The rats were divided into control group and PS group which were subdivided into three subgroups: 7-day group, 14-day group, and recovery group (ten rats in each subgroup). PS model was created by a communication box which contains room A and room B. Rats in room A were only exposed to the responses of rats which were randomly given electrical shock for 30 min in room B. PS was given to rats for 30 min every morning for 14 days. The serum corticosterone (CORT), zinc in serum and tissues, and zinc apparent absorption after PS exposure were investigated. The results showed that the serum CORT increased and serum zinc decreased after 7 and 14 days of PS treatment. The zinc concentration in the liver was increased by 14 days PS exposure, whereas its concentration in the hippocampus was decreased by 7 and 14 days of PS exposure. There were no significant changes in zinc concentration in the heart, spleen, kidney, duodenum, cortex, and cerebellum. A decrease in the zinc apparent absorption was observed in the 7- and 14-day PS groups. The increased serum CORT and liver zinc concentrations and decreased serum zinc and apparent absorption of zinc recovered to normal concentrations 7 days away from PS exposure. The results suggest that PS could induce lower serum zinc, which might be correlated with decreased zinc absorption in the small intestine and increased liver zinc accumulation after PS exposure. The consequent effects of decreased hippocampal and serum zinc and increased CORT concentration after PS exposure on stress-related diseases await further research.

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