Decreased zinc ion availability in ageing is associated with altered immune response. One of the main regulators of zinc availability is metallothionein. Metallothionein induction is under the control of interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine whose production is associated with poor ageing. The production of interleukin-6 is controlled, in part, by variability in the -174 nucleotide position. Under conditions of chronic inflammation, such as in ageing, zinc release by metallothionein is limited and may reduce zinc availability. Understanding the precise nature of the interactions between interleukin-6 and metallothioneins will aid in identifying individuals who are at risk of zinc deficiency. In the current study, we used gene arrays to investigate the effects of in vitro zinc supplementation on gene expression in elderly donors with described interleukin-6 and metallothionein 1a polymorphisms. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis™ identified several zinc-responsive genetic networks uniquely regulated only in elderly individuals with the pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 polymorphism. These include zinc-dependent decreased transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and alterations in metabolic regulatory pathways. The genomic effects of zinc increased in significance in the presence of the metallothionein 1a +647 C/A transition, suggesting that the interleukin-6 and metallothionein 1a genes act in a concerted manner to control zinc-regulated gene expression.
- Nutritional genomics
- Single-nucleotide polymorphism
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