New Insights into the Roles of ZIP8, a Cadmium and Manganese Transporter, and Its Relation to Human Diseases

Biol Pharm Bull. 2019;42(7):1076-1082. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b18-00637.


ZIP8, a Zrt-/Irt-related protein encoded by Slc39A8, was originally discovered as a zinc transporter, but since then its roles as a transporter for cadmium (Cd) and manganese (Mn) have also been well characterized. ZIP8 is highly expressed in the S3 segment of the proximal tubules of the mouse kidney and may play a significant role in reabsorption of both toxic Cd and essential Mn from the lumen to the epithelial cells of the proximal tubule. In recent years, associations between various human diseases and genetic variations of ZIP8 have been reported. Missense mutations in the human SLC39A8 gene are associated with serious disorders of Mn metabolism, showing symptoms similar to congenital glycosylation deficiency. Enhanced excretion of Mn via bile or urine might be the cause of extremely low blood Mn levels in ZIP8-mutated patients, leading to the defects in Mn-dependent glycosylation. Several genome-wide association studies have demonstrated the associations of multiple diseases and ZIP8 SNPs constituting missense mutations. These findings suggest that ZIP8 plays more important roles than previously expected as a modulator of Mn homeostasis in the body. Elucidation of biochemical mechanisms regarding the metal-transporting ability of ZIP8 and its alteration by mutation is required for better understanding of the role of ZIP8 in human diseases.

Keywords: SLC39A8; cadmium; manganese; transport; zinc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cadmium / metabolism*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • Amino Acids
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • SLC39A8 protein, human
  • Cadmium
  • Manganese