Zinc dyshomeostasis during polymicrobial sepsis in mice involves zinc transporter Zip14 and can be overcome by zinc supplementation

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2015 Nov 1;309(9):G768-78. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00179.2015. Epub 2015 Aug 13.


Integrity of the immune system is particularly dependent on the availability of zinc. Recent data suggest that zinc is involved in the development of sepsis, a life-threatening systemic inflammation with high death rates, but with limited therapeutic options. Altered cell zinc transport mechanisms could contribute to the inflammatory effects of sepsis. Zip14, a zinc importer induced by proinflammatory stimuli, could influence zinc metabolism during sepsis and serve as a target for therapy. Using cecal ligation-and-puncture (CLP) to model polymicrobial sepsis, we narrowed the function of ZIP14 to regulation of zinc homeostasis in hepatocytes, while hepatic leukocytes were mostly responsible for driving inflammation, as shown by higher expression of IL-1β, TNFα, S100A8, and matrix metalloproteinase-8. Using Zip14 knockout (KO) mice as a novel approach, we found that ablation of Zip14 produced a delay in development of leukocytosis, prevented zinc accumulation in the liver, altered the kinetics of hypozincemia, and drastically increased serum IL-6, TNFα, and IL-10 concentrations following CLP. Hence, this model revealed that the zinc transporter ZIP14 is a component of the pathway for zinc redistribution that contributes to zinc dyshomeostasis during polymicrobial sepsis. In contrast, using the identical CLP model, we found that supplemental dietary zinc reduced the severity of sepsis, as shown by amelioration of cytokines, calprotectins, and blood bacterial loads. We conclude that the zinc transporter ZIP14 influences aspects of the pathophysiology of nonlethal polymicrobial murine sepsis induced by CLP through zinc delivery. The results are promising for the use of zinc and its transporters as targets for future sepsis therapy.

Keywords: cytokines; sepsis; zinc metabolism; zinc transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Load
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cation Transport Proteins / deficiency
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Cecum / surgery
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / immunology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Ligation
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Punctures
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Sepsis / genetics
  • Sepsis / immunology
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Sepsis / prevention & control*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc / metabolism
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • SLC39A14 protein, mouse
  • Zinc