Micronutrient homeostasis is a key factor in maintaining a healthy immune system. Zinc is an essential micronutrient that is involved in the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. The main cause of zinc deficiency is malnutrition. Zinc deficiency leads to cell-mediated immune dysfunctions among other manifestations. Consequently, such dysfunctions lead to a worse outcome in the response towards bacterial infection and sepsis. For instance, zinc is an essential component of the pathogen-eliminating signal transduction pathways leading to neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) formation, as well as inducing cell-mediated immunity over humoral immunity by regulating specific factors of differentiation. Additionally, zinc deficiency plays a role in inflammation, mainly elevating inflammatory response as well as damage to host tissue. Zinc is involved in the modulation of the proinflammatory response by targeting Nuclear Factor Kappa B (NF-κB), a transcription factor that is the master regulator of proinflammatory responses. It is also involved in controlling oxidative stress and regulating inflammatory cytokines. Zinc plays an intricate function during an immune response and its homeostasis is critical for sustaining proper immune function. This review will summarize the latest findings concerning the role of this micronutrient during the course of infections and inflammatory response and how the immune system modulates zinc depending on different stimuli.
Keywords: homeostasis; infection; inflammation; zinc.