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Front Pharmacol. 2017 Jun 30;8:414. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00414. eCollection 2017.

The Emerging Role for Zinc in Depression and Psychosis.

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Creedmoor Psychiatric CenterQueens, NY, United States.
Departments of Cell Biology, Physiology and Neuroscience, and Psychiatry, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York UniversityNew York, NY, United States.
Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of MedicineNew York, NY, United States.


Zinc participation is essential for all physiological systems, including neural functioning, where it participates in a myriad of cellular processes. Converging clinical, molecular, and genetic discoveries illuminate key roles for zinc homeostasis in association with clinical depression and psychosis which are not yet well appreciated at the clinical interface. Intracellular deficiency may arise from low circulating zinc levels due to dietary insufficiency, or impaired absorption from aging or medical conditions, including alcoholism. A host of medications commonly administered to psychiatric patients, including anticonvulsants, oral medications for diabetes, hormones, antacids, anti-inflammatories and others also impact zinc absorption. Furthermore, inefficient genetic variants in zinc transporter molecules that transport the ion across cellular membranes impede its action even when circulating zinc concentrations is in the normal range. Well powered clinical studies have shown beneficial effects of supplemental zinc in depression and it important to pursue research using zinc as a potential therapeutic option for psychosis as well. Meta-analyses support the adjunctive use of zinc in major depression and a single study now supports zinc for psychotic symptoms. This manuscript reviews the biochemistry and bench top evidence on putative molecular mechanisms of zinc as a psychiatric treatment.


NMDA; depression; glutamate; psychosis; zinc dysfunction

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