Zinc homeostasis in the metabolic syndrome and diabetes

Front Med. 2013 Mar;7(1):31-52. doi: 10.1007/s11684-013-0251-9. Epub 2013 Feb 6.


Zinc (Zn) is an essential mineral that is required for various cellular functions. Zn dyshomeostasis always is related to certain disorders such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and diabetic complications. The associations of Zn with metabolic syndrome, diabetes and diabetic complications, thus, stem from the multiple roles of Zn: (1) a constructive component of many important enzymes or proteins, (2) a requirement for insulin storage and secretion, (3) a direct or indirect antioxidant action, and (4) an insulin-like action. However, whether there is a clear cause-and-effect relationship of Zn with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or diabetic complications remains unclear. In fact, it is known that Zn deficiency is a common phenomenon in diabetic patients. Chronic low intake of Zn was associated with the increased risk of diabetes and diabetes also impairs Zn metabolism. Theoretically Zn supplementation should prevent the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and diabetic complications; however, limited available data are not always supportive of the above notion. Therefore, this review has tried to summarize these pieces of available information, possible mechanisms by which Zn prevents the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and diabetic complications. In the final part, what are the current issues for Zn supplementation were also discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena* / drug effects
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena* / physiology
  • Diabetes Complications* / metabolism
  • Diabetes Complications* / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / prevention & control
  • Metallothionein / metabolism
  • Trace Elements / deficiency
  • Trace Elements / metabolism
  • Trace Elements / pharmacology
  • Zinc Fingers
  • Zinc* / deficiency
  • Zinc* / metabolism
  • Zinc* / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Insulin
  • Trace Elements
  • Metallothionein
  • Zinc