Zinc and the aging brain

Johnathan R. Nuttall, Patricia I. Oteiza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Abstract: Alterations in trace element homeostasis could be involved in the pathology of dementia, and in particular of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Zinc is a structural or functional component of many proteins, being involved in numerous and relevant physiological functions. Zinc homeostasis is affected in the elderly, and current evidence points to alterations in the cellular and systemic distribution of zinc in AD. Although the association of zinc and other metals with AD pathology remains unclear, therapeutic approaches designed to restore trace element homeostasis are being tested in clinical trials. Not only could zinc supplementation potentially benefit individuals with AD, but zinc supplementation also improves glycemic control in the elderly suffering from diabetes mellitus. However, the findings that select genetic polymorphisms may alter an individual's zinc intake requirements should be taken into consideration when planning zinc supplementation. This review will focus on current knowledge regarding pathological and protective mechanisms involving brain zinc in AD to highlight areas where future research may enable development of new and improved therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number379
JournalGenes and Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Aging brain
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Nutrigenomics
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Genetics


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