Influence of marginal maternal zinc deficiency of pregnancy outcome and infant zinc status in rhesus monkeys

Carl L Keen, B. Lonnerdal, M. S. Golub, J. Y. Uriu-Hare, K. L. Olin, Andrew G Hendrickx, M. Eric Gershwin

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22 Scopus citations


To investigate the effects of marginal zinc deficiency on early development, rhesus monkeys were fed a diet marginally deficient in zinc (M; 4 μg/g) throughout pregnancy and during the first month of lactation. Despite the low concentration of zinc in the diet, M dams did not develop overt signs of zinc deficiency. However, compared to control dams fed diets adequate in zinc (C; 100 μg Zn/g), M dams showed a low response to the mitogens concanavalin A and phytohemagglutinin. Pregnancy outcome was similar in the two groups and all of the neonates were judged to be healthy at delivery. From birth until d 30 of age, the infants were closely monitored for signs of zinc deficiency, and at d 30, they were killed and tissues were removed and analyzed for a number of parameters reported to be affected by zinc status. At birth, M infants had low plasma zinc concentrations compared to controls; however, this difference was not observed at d 30. D 30 M infants showed a normal response to the mitogens concanavalin A and phytohemagglutinin, but showed a low response to pokeweed mitogen. Tissue (liver, brain, spleen, kidney, and heart) trace element concentrations were similar in the two groups of infants, as were liver metallothionein concentrations and 65Zn uptake/retention by isolated hepatocytes. Infant wt gain was inversely correlated with plasma zinc, liver zinc, and liver metallothionein concentrations in both the M and C groups. These results demonstrate that feeding a diet containing 4 μg zinc/g to rhesus monkeys during pregnancy and lactation does not result in marked signs of zinc deficiency, although subtle signs occur in both the mother and infant. The data also support the concept that infant growth is associated with a depletion of tissue zinc stores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-477
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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