Effects of maternal marginal zinc deficiency on myelin protein profiles in the suckling rat and infant rhesus monkey

Hueyjiuan Liu, Patricia I. Oteiza, M. Eric Gershwin, Mari S. Golub, Carl L Keen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In the current study, the effects of marginal Zn deficiency on myelin protein profiles in neonatal rats and rhesus monkeys were investigated. Following mating, rats were fed a Zn-adequate diet, ad libitum (50 μg Zn/g; 50 Zn AL), or a marginal Zn diet (10 μg Zn/g) from day 0 (10 Zn d0) or day 14 (10 Zn d14) of gestation to day 20 postnatal. An additional group of dams was restricted-fed the control diet to the food intake of the 10 Zn d0 group (50 Zn RF). Day 20 pup plasma and liver Zn concentrations in the 10 Zn groups were lower than in the 50 Zn groups. In a parallel experiment, rhesus monkeys were fed a Zn-adequate ad libitum diet (100 μg Zn/g) or a marginal Zn diet (4 μg Zn/g diet; MZD) throughout gestation and lactation. Day 30 monkey infant plasma and liver Zn levels were similar in the MZD and control groups. Rat brain and monkey brain cortex weights were similar among the dietary groups. The amount of myelin recovered (mg protein/g brain) from day 20 rat pups from the 10 Zn groups was lower than that recovered from the 50 Zn rat pups. Myelin recovery from the MZD and control monkey infants was similar. When myelin protein profiles were characterized, it was found that the percentages of high-molecular-weight (HMW) proteins and Wolfgram protein were higher, whereas the percentages of small and large basic proteins were lower in myelin from the 10 Zn d0 and 50 Zn RF pups compared to the distribution in the 50 Zn AL rat pups. Results for the 10 Zn d0 and 10 Zn d14 pups were similar for all of the parameters studied. The percentage of HMW proteins was higher and that of basic protein lower in myelin from MZD monkey infants compared to the percentage of these proteins in myelin from controls. Although the interpretation of the rat data is complicated because of the anorexia associated with the Zn deficiency, the observed changes in monkey myelin protein profiles provide strong evidence that maternal Zn deficiency affects myelination in the offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1992


  • brain development
  • development
  • rhesus monkey
  • Zinc
  • zinc deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry


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