Association of serum zinc with markers of liver injury in very heavy drinking alcohol-dependent patients

J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Sep;59:49-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.05.003. Epub 2018 May 12.


Zinc deficiency is a frequent complication of alcohol abuse for multiple reasons including poor intake, increased excretion, internal redistribution and altered transporters. Zinc deficiency has been postulated to play a role in the development/progression of alcoholic liver disease (ALD). This study aimed to relate serum zinc levels with alcohol intake, serum albumin concentration and markers of inflammation and liver injury. One hundred and eight male and female very heavy drinking (≥10 drinks/day) individuals without clinical evidence of ALD were grouped by serum zinc concentration: normal-zinc group (zinc level≥71 μg/dl) included 67 patients, and low-zinc group (zinc level<71 μg/dl) included 41 patients. Data were collected on demographics, drinking history in last 90 days (heavy drinking days, HDD90 and total drinks, TD90), lifetime drinking history (LTDH) and clinical/ laboratory assessments. Our data show that in a very well-characterized, chronically heavy-drinking population without clinical evidence of liver disease, about 40% of subjects had low serum zinc levels. Frequency of heavy drinking days (HDD90) was significantly higher in the low-zinc group. Total drinks in past 90 days, LTDH and HDD90 showed significant associations with low zinc levels. The group with the low serum zinc had a higher aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase ratio (good marker of alcoholic liver disease). Those in the low-zinc group had the lower albumin levels, a marker of hepatic synthetic function, and the highest C-reactive protein level, a biomarker of inflammation.

Trial registration: NCT00106106.

Keywords: Alcohol; C-reactive protein; Drinking history; Liver injury; Zinc.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serum Albumin, Human / analysis
  • Zinc / blood*
  • Zinc / deficiency


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Zinc
  • Bilirubin
  • Serum Albumin, Human

Associated data