Project: Research project

Project Details


It is now generally recognized that trace metals play an important role in
mammalian nutriture and metabolism. Nonetheless, until relatively
recently, it was assumed that the availability of dietary zinc was not a
major concern for human populations. However, multiple studies conducted
throughout the world, including Western populations, have indicated that
marginal levels of zinc deprivation may in fact exist in human populations
and that zinc deficiency may occur as a result of either inadequate zinc in
the diet, or as a result of either inadequate zinc in the diet, or as a
result of multiple conditioning factors, including pregnancy. Previous
studies in rodents have suggested that short periods of zinc deprivation
were significantly teratogenic. However, relatively mild cases of zinc
deprivation, unlike those studied in rodents, are more relevant to human
problems. A major concern in this regard is related to pregnant women.
How can we best determine the optimal level of zinc nutriture, especially
in regard to its relationship to fetal development? Moreover, if zinc
deficiency has detrimental influences in humans, are any of these
influences reversible if identified early in pregnancy? To investigate
these problems, over the past two years of our three year program we have
induced a marginal state of zinc deficiency in the pregnant non-human
primate, Macaca mulatta, and have maintained a state of zinc deprivation
throughout gestation and lactation. The results of these observations
suggest that a marginally zinc deficient zinc diet, even when begun after
conception, has marked influences on maternal and newborn health. These
influences include nutritional status, anthropometric parameters,
immunologic function, and behavior of newborn animals. In the continuing
phase of this grant we hope to focus more directly on teratogenic
influences of long term marginal zinc deprivation, begun 1 year prior to
pregnancy, as well as on the possible reversibility of these effects. As
such, we hope to define the role of zinc repletion of nutritionally at risk
pregnancies. We will also continue our attention on the effects of
long-term marginal zinc deprivation on offspring and will focus primarily
on growth and development, immunohematologic function and behavioral
development with specific attention to potential development disabilities.
Effective start/end date7/1/806/30/95


  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)


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