Effects of zinc supplementation on antioxidant enzyme activities in healthy old subjects

Exp Gerontol. 2008 May;43(5):445-51. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2007.10.012. Epub 2007 Nov 1.


A large body of experimental research indicates that oxidative stress contributes to the processes related to aging and age-related diseases. Trace elements, particularly zinc (Zn), are essential components of the endogenous enzymatic antioxidant defenses. The aim of this study was to determine the activity of three main antioxidant enzymes in plasma [i.e. superoxide dismutase (pSOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx)] and of SOD in erythrocyte (eSOD) in a group of 1108 healthy elderly subjects from different European countries. The same enzymatic activities were evaluated in a subgroup of 108 subjects before and after Zn supplementation. We observed that eSOD activity increased with age, whereas plasma Zn decreased. Moreover, we found that women showed higher eSOD activity and lower plasma Zn compared to men. There were no age and gender-related differences in the activities of pSOD, CAT and GPx. After Zn supplementation, the activities of Zn-dependent enzymes (pSOD and eSOD), as well as plasma Zn concentration, were significantly higher than before supplementation. These results were not influenced by age, gender, plasma Zn variations (Delta Zn) and geographic area. These data suggest the potential beneficial effects of Zn supplementation on Zn-dependent antioxidant enzymes in healthy elderly subjects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Catalase / drug effects
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology
  • Female
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / drug effects
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidoreductases / drug effects*
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / drug effects
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Trace Elements / administration & dosage
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology*
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Trace Elements
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Zinc