Zinc homeostasis and signaling in health and diseases: Zinc signaling

J Biol Inorg Chem. 2011 Oct;16(7):1123-34. doi: 10.1007/s00775-011-0797-4. Epub 2011 Jun 10.


The essential trace element zinc (Zn) is widely required in cellular functions, and abnormal Zn homeostasis causes a variety of health problems that include growth retardation, immunodeficiency, hypogonadism, and neuronal and sensory dysfunctions. Zn homeostasis is regulated through Zn transporters, permeable channels, and metallothioneins. Recent studies highlight Zn's dynamic activity and its role as a signaling mediator. Zn acts as an intracellular signaling molecule, capable of communicating between cells, converting extracellular stimuli to intracellular signals, and controlling intracellular events. We have proposed that intracellular Zn signaling falls into two classes, early and late Zn signaling. This review addresses recent findings regarding Zn signaling and its role in physiological processes and pathogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease*
  • Health*
  • Homeostasis* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction* / immunology
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • zinc-binding protein
  • Zinc