Nutritional immunity beyond iron: a role for manganese and zinc

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2010 Apr;14(2):218-24. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.11.008. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Vertebrates sequester iron from invading pathogens, and conversely, pathogens express a variety of factors to steal iron from the host. Recent work has demonstrated that in addition to iron, vertebrates sequester zinc and manganese both intracellularly and extracellularly to protect against infection. Intracellularly, vertebrates utilize the ZIP/ZnT families of transporters to manipulate zinc levels, as well as Nramp1 to manipulate manganese levels. Extracellularly, the S100 protein calprotectin sequesters manganese and potentially zinc to inhibit microbial growth. To circumvent these defenses, bacteria possess high affinity transporters to import specific nutrient metals. Limiting the availability of zinc and manganese as a mechanism to defend against infection expands the spectrum of nutritional immunity and further establishes metal sequestration as a key defense against microbial invaders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Status
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • S100 Proteins
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Zinc