Zinc ionophores: chemistry and biological applications

J Inorg Biochem. 2022 Mar:228:111691. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2021.111691. Epub 2021 Dec 9.


Zinc can play a pathophysiological role in several diseases and can interfere in key processes of microbial growth. This evidence justifies the efforts in applying Zinc ionophores to restore Zinc homeostasis and treat bacterial/viral infections such as coronavirus diseases. Zinc ionophores increase the intracellular concentration of Zinc ions causing significant biological effects. This review provides, for the first time, an overview of the applications of the main Zinc ionophores in Zinc deficiency, infectious diseases, and in cancer, discussing the pharmacological and coordination properties of the Zinc ionophores.

Keywords: Bacteria; Cancer; Coronavirus; Ionophores; Zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrodermatitis / drug therapy
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ionophores / chemistry*
  • Ionophores / pharmacology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Zinc / chemistry*
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ionophores
  • Zinc

Supplementary concepts

  • Acrodermatitis enteropathica