Sepsis, defined as a "life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host-response to infection" is a major health issue worldwide and still lacks a fully elucidated pathobiology and uniform diagnostic tests. The trace element zinc is known to be crucial to ensure an appropriate immune response. During sepsis a redistribution of zinc from serum into the liver has been observed and several studies imply a correlation between zinc and sepsis outcome. Therefore the alterations of zinc concentrations in different tissues might serve as one part of the host's defense mechanism against pathogens during sepsis by diverse mechanisms. It has been suggested that zinc is involved in nutritional immunity, acts as a hepatoprotective agent, or a differentiation signal for innate immune cells, or supports the synthesis of acute phase proteins. Further knowledge about these events could help in the evaluation of how zinc could be optimally applied to improve treatment of septic patients. Moreover, the changes in zinc homeostasis are substantial and correlate with the severity of the disease, suggesting that zinc might also be useful as a diagnostic marker for evaluating the severity and predicting the outcome of sepsis.
Keywords: biomarker; homeostasis; sepsis; supplementation; zinc.