Effects of zinc deficiency on Th1 and Th2 cytokine shifts

J Infect Dis. 2000 Sep;182 Suppl 1:S62-8. doi: 10.1086/315916.


Nutritional deficiency of zinc is widespread throughout developing countries, and zinc-deficient persons have increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. Zinc deficiency in an experimental human model caused an imbalance between Th1 and Th2 functions. Production of interferon-gamma and interleukin (IL)-2 (products of Th1) were decreased, whereas production of IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 (products of Th2) were not affected during zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency decreased natural killer cell lytic activity and percentage of precursors of cytolytic T cells. In HuT-78, a Th0 cell line, zinc deficiency decreased gene expression of thymidine kinase, delayed cell cycle, and decreased cell growth. Gene expression of IL-2 and IL-2 receptors (both alpha and beta) and binding of NF-kappaB to DNA were decreased by zinc deficiency in HuT-78. Decreased production of IL-2 in zinc deficiency may be due to decreased activation of NF-kappaB and subsequent decreased gene expression of IL-2 and IL-2 receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / blood
  • Cell Line
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Deficiency Diseases / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis
  • Interleukins / blood
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / pharmacology
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / blood
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc / pharmacology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukins
  • Micronutrients
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Zinc