Gestational zinc deficiency amplifies the regulation of metallothionein induction in adult mice

K. G. Vruwink, L. S. Hurley, M. Eric Gershwin, Carl L Keen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


To determine if prenatal zinc deficiency has a persistent effect on metallothionein (MT) regulation, Swiss-Webster mice were mated and fed a diet containing either control (100 μg Zn/g) or low levels of zinc (5 μg Zn/g) from Day 7 of gestation to parturition. After birth all mice were given the control diet. Liver zinc and MT levels were 50% lower in newborn pups from dams fed the low zinc diets than in control pups. In control pups,liver zinc and MT concentrations were relatively stable during the first week of postnatal life. In contrast, in pups prenatally deprived of zinc, liver levels of zinc and MT increased such that by Day 3 of postnatal life, the levels were not significantly different from controls. At Day 56, serum IgM concentrations were significantly lower in the low zinc offspring. Liver zinc concentrations in the two groups of mice were similar at Day 70 postnatal, and in both groups liver MT levels were below detection limits. However, when Day 70 mice were given zinc injections to stimulate MT synthesis, the prenatally zinc deprived offspring showed markedly higher liver MT levels than did control mice given similar injections, despite similar liver zinc concentrations in the two groups. These results show that prenatal zinc deficiency has pronounced effects on postnatal MT metabolism which can persist into adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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