Multiple impacts of zinc on immune function

Metallomics. 2014 Jul;6(7):1175-80. doi: 10.1039/c3mt00353a.


Even though zinc is essential for virtually all processes in the human body, observations during zinc deficiency indicate that the absence of this trace element most severely affects the immune response. Numerous investigations of the cellular and molecular requirements for zinc in the immune system have indicated that there is not just one single function of zinc underlying this essentiality. In fact, there is a wide range of different roles of zinc in immunity. This review summarizes the recent developments in three of the major fields: the role of zinc as a second messenger in signal transduction, the importance of zinc for immune cell function, and the competition for zinc between the host and the pathogen, a concept known as nutritional immunity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex / metabolism
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Zinc / blood
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / physiology*


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • Zinc