Update on Zinc Biology
Zinc has become a prominent nutrient of clinical and public health interest in the new millennium. Functions and actions for zinc emerge as increasingly ubiquitous in mammalian anatomy, physiology and metabolism. There is undoubtedly an underpinning in fundamental biology for all of the aspects of zinc in human health (clinical and epidemiological) in pediatric and public health practice. Unfortunately, basic science research may not have achieved a full understanding as yet. As a complement to the applied themes in the companion articles, a selection of recent advances in the domains homeostatic regulation and transport of zinc is presented; they are integrated, in turn, with findings on genetic expression, intracellular signaling, immunity and host defense, and bone growth. The elements include ionic zinc, zinc transporters, metallothioneins, zinc metalloenzymes and zinc finger proteins. In emerging basic research, we find some plausible mechanistic explanations for delayed linear growth with zinc deficiency and increased infectious disease resistance with zinc supplementation.