||Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00
Optimal brain and immune system functioning depend on an adequate intake of zinc, among other nutrients. But the test now used to assess zinc status isn't as sensitive, fast, and reliable as users would like. So a new test, based on what's called the ZIP1 gene, might be just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. Instructions contained in this gene tell cells to form a protein, also named ZIP1, which can shuttle zinc into a cell where more zinc is needed.
Researchers worked with 25 healthy female volunteers aged 20-25 or 64-75. Some received zinc supplements, while others did not. All ate their usual meals, which provided about 7 milligrams of zinc daily.
White blood cell samples were taken at the beginning and end of the study to see whether ZIP1 gene activity was affected by zinc supplementation. Indeed, activity was reduced in the volunteers receiving the zinc supplement, which suggests that supplements did help cells meet their zinc needs and that ZIP1 gene activity does reflect zinc levels in white blood cells.
Liping Huang, USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis, California; phone (530) 754-5756.
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