Interactions between Zn and Cu in LEC rats, an animal model of Wilson's disease

Alessandro Santon, Sabrina Giannetto, Giacomo Sturniolo, Valentina Medici, Renata D'Incà, Paola Irato, Vincenzo Albergoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The effect of oral Zn treatment was studied in the liver and kidneys of 26 male Long-Evans Cinnamon (LEC) rats (mutant animals, 5 weeks old) in relation to both the interaction between Zn and Cu and the localisation and concentration of metallothionein (MT). Rats receiving 80 mg zinc acetate daily by gavage and control rats receiving no treatment were killed after 1 or 2 weeks. By immunohistochemical and analytical chemical techniques we revealed that treated rats had higher levels of MT in the hepatic and renal cells compared to untreated ones. Tissue Zn concentrations were significantly higher in treated rats compared to untreated whereas Cu concentrations decreased in the liver and kidneys as indicated by analytical chemical analyses. MT levels also decreased with treatment period. A histochemical procedure, obtained using autofluorescence of Cu-metallothioneins, confirms these findings: after 2 weeks, the signal decreased in both the liver and kidney sections. This gives a greater understanding of the mechanism of Cu metabolism in the two tissues considered. These results suggest that Zn acts both to compete for absorption on the luminal side of the intestinal epithelium and to induce the synthesis of MT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Autofluorescence
  • Immunolocalisation
  • LEC rats
  • Metallothionein
  • Metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Instrumentation


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