Prenatal zinc supplementation of zinc-adequate rats adversely affects immunity in offspring

Mohammad T K Sharkar, Ming Yu Jou, Mohammad B. Hossain, Bo Lönnerdal, Charles B. Stephensen, Rubhana Raqib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We previously showed that zinc (Zn) supplementation of Zn-adequate dams induced immunosuppressive effects that persist in the offspring after weaning. We investigated whether the immunosuppressive effects were due to in utero exposure and/or mediated via milk using a cross-fostering design. Pregnant rats with adequate Zn nutriture were supplemented with either Zn (1.5 mg Zn in 10% sucrose) or placebo (10% sucrose) during pregnancy (3 times/wk). At postnatal d 3, 4 pups of Zn-supplemented dams (Zn-P) were exchanged with 4 of placebo-supplemented dams (P-Zn). The remaining pups continued with their biological mothers (Zn-Zn and P-P). Pups were orally immunized with dini-trophenol ovalbumin-BSA and/or cholera toxin B subunit (CTB), and serum Zn concentrations and cellular and humoral responses were assessed. Pups of Zn-supplemented dams had higher serum Zn when fostered either by placebo- or Zn-supplemented dams compared to pups of placebo-supplemented dams (P <0.01). Postnatal Zn exposure reduced the number of Peyer's patches in both the Zn-Zn and P-Zn groups (P <0.01). Prenatal Zn exposure suppressed CTB- (P = 0.05) and BSA-specific proliferation response of Peyer's Patch lymphocytes (P = 0.07). Prenatal Zn exposure effects on the splenocyte cytokine response were differently influenced by fostering mothers' Zn status. Antigen presenting cell (APC) activity of splenocytes was lower in the Zn-Zn group than in the P-P group (P < 0.08). In conclusion, prenatal Zn exposure increases serum Zn levels in pups and suppresses antigen-specific proliferation and antibody responses and APC function, whereas postnatal exposure may suppress the mucosal immune reservoir.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1564
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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