Adv Food Nutr Res. 2021:96:251-310. doi: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2021.01.003. Epub 2021 May 24.


Since the discovery of manifest Zn deficiency in 1961, the increasing number of studies demonstrated the association between altered Zn status and multiple diseases. In this chapter, we provide a review of the most recent advances on the role of Zn in health and disease (2010-20), with a special focus on the role of Zn in neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, diabetes and obesity, male and female reproduction, as well as COVID-19. In parallel with the revealed tight association between ASD risk and severity and Zn status, the particular mechanisms linking Zn2+ and ASD pathogenesis like modulation of synaptic plasticity through ProSAP/Shank scaffold, neurotransmitter metabolism, and gut microbiota, have been elucidated. The increasing body of data indicate the potential involvement of Zn2+ metabolism in neurodegeneration. Systemic Zn levels in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease were found to be reduced, whereas its sequestration in brain may result in modulation of amyloid β and α-synuclein processing with subsequent toxic effects. Zn2+ was shown to possess adipotropic effects through the role of zinc transporters, zinc finger proteins, and Zn-α2-glycoprotein in adipose tissue physiology, underlying its particular role in pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes mellitus type 2. Recent findings also contribute to further understanding of the role of Zn2+ in spermatogenesis and sperm functioning, as well as oocyte development and fertilization. Finally, Zn2+ was shown to be the potential adjuvant therapy in management of novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), underlining the perspectives of zinc in management of old and new threats.

Keywords: Autism; Diabetes; Infertility; Neurodegeneration; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / metabolism*
  • COVID-19 / metabolism*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / metabolism
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Reproduction*
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / metabolism*
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Zinc