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Pediatr Med Chir. 1984 Sep-Oct;6(5):625-36.

[Zinc and chronic enteropathies].

[Article in Italian]


In recent years the nutritional importance of zinc has been well established; its deficiency and its symptoms have also been recognized in humans. Furthermore, Acrodermatitis Enteropathica has been isolated, a rare but severe disease, of which skin lesions, chronic diarrhoea and recurring infections are the main symptoms. The disease is related to the malfunctioning of intestinal absorption of zinc and can be treated by administering pharmacological doses of zinc orally. Good dietary sources of zinc are meat, fish and, to a less extent, human milk. The amount of zinc absorbed in the small intestine is influenced by other nutrients: some compounds inhibit this process (dietary fiber, phytate) while others (picolinic acid, citric acid), referred to as Zn-binding ligands (ZnBL) facilitate it. Citric acid is thought to be the ligand which accounts for the high level of bioavailability of zinc in human milk. zinc absorption occurs throughout the small intestine, not only in the prossimal tract (duodenum and jejunum) but also in the distal tract (ileum). Diarrhoea is one of the clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency, thus many illnesses distinguished by chronic diarrhoea entail a bad absorption of zinc. In fact, in some cases of chronic enteropathies in infants, like coeliac disease and seldom cystic fibrosis, a deficiency of zinc has been isolated. Some of the symptoms of Crohn's disease, like retarded growth and hypogonadism, have been related to hypozinchemia which is present in this illness. Finally, it is possible that some of the dietary treatments frequently used for persistent post-enteritis diarrhoea (i.e. cow's milk exclusion, abuse and misuse of dietary fiber like carrot and carub powder, use of soy formula) can constitute a scarce supply of zinc and therefore could promote the persistency of diarrhoea itself.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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