Zinc plays a pivotal role in various zinc enzymes, which are crucial in the maintenance of liver function. Patients with chronic liver diseases (CLDs) usually have lower concentrations of zinc, which decrease further as liver fibrosis progresses. Whether long-term zinc supplementation improves liver function and reduces the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development remains unknown. Two hundred and sixty-seven patients with CLDs who received a zinc preparation (Zn-group; 196 patients), or who did not receive zinc (no Zn-treatment group; 71 patients), were retrospectively analyzed in this study. The Zn-group was divided into 4 groups according to their serum Zn concentrations at 6 months after the start of Zn treatment. Liver function significantly deteriorated in the no Zn-treatment group, while no notable change was observed in the Zn-group. The cumulative incidence rates of events and HCC at 3 years were observed to be lower in the Zn-group (9.5%, 7.6%) than in the no Zn-treatment group (24.9%, 19.2%) (p < 0.001). According to serum Zn concentrations, the cumulative incidence rates of events and HCC were significantly decreased in patients with Zn concentrations ≥ 70 µg/dL (p < 0.001). Zinc supplementation appears to be effective at maintaining liver function and suppressing events and HCC development, especially among patients whose Zn concentration is greater than 70 µg/dL.
Keywords: HCC; Zn concentration; liver function; zinc.