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J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015 Jan;29:24-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Zinc homeostasis and immunosenescence.

Author information

1
Institute of Immunology, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Pauwelstr. 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.
2
Institute of Immunology, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Pauwelstr. 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany. Electronic address: lrink@ukaachen.de.

Abstract

For more than 50 years, zinc is known to be an essential trace element, having a regulatory role in the immune system. Deficiency in zinc thus compromises proper immune function, like it is observed in the elderly population. Here mild zinc deficiency is a common condition, documented by a decline of serum or plasma zinc levels with age. This leads to a dysregulation mainly in the adaptive immunity that can result in an increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, known as a status called inflamm-aging. T cell activation as well as polarization of T helper (Th) cells into their different subpopulations (Th1, Th2, Th17, regulatory T cells (Treg)) is highly influenced by zinc homeostasis. In the elderly a shift of the Th cell balance towards Th2 response is observed, a non-specific pre-activation of T cells is displayed, as well as a decreased response to vaccination is seen. Moreover, an impaired function of innate immune cells indicate a predominance of zinc deficiency in the elderly that may contribute to immunosenescence. This review summarizes current findings about zinc deficiency and supplementation in elderly individuals.

KEYWORDS:

Immunobiology; Immunosenescence; Zinc

PMID:
25022332
DOI:
10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.06.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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