Zinc, human diseases and aging

Aging (Milano). 1995 Apr;7(2):77-93. doi: 10.1007/BF03324297.


Zinc is one of the most important trace elements in the body for many biological functions; it is required as a catalytic component for more than 200 enzymes, and as a structural constituent of many proteins, hormones, neuropeptides, hormone receptors, and probably polynucleotides. Due to its role in cell division and differentiation, programmed cell death, gene transcription, biomembrane functioning and obviously many enzymatic activities, zinc is considered a major element in assuring the correct functioning of an organism, from the very first embryonic stages to the last periods of life. This biological role together with the many factors that modulate zinc turnover explains on one hand, the variety of clinical and laboratory signs resulting from its reduced bioavailability, and on the other, the high number of human pathologies characterized by alterations in the zinc pool. As zinc supplementation is efficacious in most of these conditions, it is regarded more as an oriented therapeutical support, than a simple dietary integrator. Furthermore, the relevance of zinc status to many age-associated diseases and, according to experimental studies, the aging itself of the major homeostatic mechanisms of the body, i.e., the nervous, neuroendocrine and immune systems, places zinc in a pivotal position in the economy of the aging organism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Disease*
  • Humans
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / metabolism
  • Zinc / physiology*


  • Zinc