Metallothionein and antioxidant enzymes in Long-Evans Cinnamon rats treated with zinc

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The Long-Evans Cinnamon (LEC) rat is a mutant animal model for Wilson's disease. It is known that an abnormal accumulation of Cu and Fe in the liver and low concentrations of both ceruloplasmin and Cu in the serum occur in these rats. The accumulation of Cu is explained by the defective expression of the Cu-transporting P-type ATPase gene, homologous to the gene for Wilson's disease (ATP7B). The aim of this work was to clarify the action mechanism of Zn, and to verify the role that this metal plays in LEC rats in short-term treatment experiments (1 and 2 weeks) on concentrations of Cu, Zn, Fe, metallothionein (MT), 8-hydroxy- 2′-deoxyguanosine (oh8dG) and on the activity of antioxidant enzymes. It is well known that Zn induces MT and has the ability to prevent redox-active metals, Cu and Fe, binding to and causing oxidative damage at active sites of Zn metalloenzymes and nonspecific binding sites on proteins. Zn administration reduces Cu and Fe transport from mucosal to serosal intestinal sides through competitive mechanisms. Our findings show that treatment with zinc acetate increases tissue Zn and MT contents and decreases Cu and Fe concentrations in the liver and kidneys, even if hepatic Zn and MT concentrations decrease with treatment period. Induction of MT synthesis by Zn contributes to the reduction in free radicals produced by Cu and Fe. We also observed that the superoxide dismutase (SOD)activity in liver decreases with treatment duration in association with the Cu and Fe liver decrease. However, the SOD activity in kidney increases in untreated rats at 2 weeks relative to those untreated for 1 week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-516
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • Copper
  • Long-Evans Cinnamon rat
  • Metallothionein
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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