Zinc metabolism in airway epithelium and airway inflammation: basic mechanisms and clinical targets. A review

Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Feb;105(2):127-49. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2004.09.004. Epub 2004 Nov 10.


In addition to basic housekeeping roles in metalloenzymes and transcription factors, dietary zinc (Zn) is an important immunoregulatory agent, growth cofactor, and cytoprotectant with anti-oxidant, anti-apoptotic, and anti-inflammatory roles. These properties of Zn are of particular importance in maintaining homeostasis of epithelial tissues which are at the front line of defense. This review is about the role of Zn in airway epithelium (AE). The first part focuses on the cellular biology of Zn, and what is known about its distribution and function in AE. The second part of the review considers evidence for altered Zn metabolism in asthma and other chronic diseases of airway inflammation. Important issues arise from a potential therapeutic perspective as to the optimal ways to monitor circulating and epithelial Zn levels in patients and the most effective means of supplementing these levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Zinc