Zinc is an essential trace element for living organisms and their biological processes. Zinc plays a key role in more than 300 enzymes and it is involved in cell communication, proliferation, differentiation and survival. Zinc plays also a role in regulating the immune system with implications in pathologies where zinc deficiency and inflammation are observed. In order to examine the experimental evidence reported in the literature regarding zinc levels in the body of patients with autoimmune disorders compared to control individuals, a systematic review and meta-analysis were performed. From 26,095 articles identified by literature search, only 179 of them were considered potentially relevant for our study and then examined. Of the 179 articles, only 62 satisfied the inclusion criteria. Particularly for Fixed Model, Zn concentration in both serum (mean effect = -1.19; confidence interval: -1.26 to -1.11) and plasma (mean effect = -3.97; confidence interval: -4.08 to -3.87) samples of autoimmune disease patients was significantly lower than in controls. The data presented in our work, although very heterogeneous in the manner of collecting and investigating samples, have proved to be extremely consistent in witnessing a deficiency of zinc in serum and plasma of patients compared to controls.
Keywords: autoimmunity; meta-analysis; multiple sclerosis; rheumatoid arthritis; type 1 diabetes; zinc.