Role of zinc and selenium in oxidative stress and immunosenescence: Implications for healthy ageing and longevity

Eugenio Mocchegiani, Marco Malavolta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ageing is an inevitable biological process with gradual and spontaneous biochemical and physiological changes and increased susceptibility to diseases. Some nutritional factors (zinc and selenium) may remodel these changes leading to a possible escaping of diseases with subsequent healthy ageing, because they are especially involved in improving immune functions as well as antioxidant defense. Experiments performed in vitro (human lymphocytes exposed to endotoxins) and in vivo (old mice or young mice fed with low zinc dietary intake) show that zinc is important for immune response both innate and adoptive. Selenium provokes zinc release by Metallothioneins (MT), via reduction of glutathione peroxidase. This fact is crucial in ageing because high MT may be unable to release zinc with subsequent low intracellular free zinc ion availability for immune response. Taking into account the existence of zinc transporters (ZnT and ZIP family) for cellular zinc efflux and influx, respectively, the association between ZnT and MT is important in maintaining satisfactory intracellular zinc homeostasis in ageing. Improved immune performance occur in elderly after physiological zinc supplementation, which also induces prolonged survival in old, nude and neonatal thymectomized mice. The association zinc plus selenium improves humoral immunity in old subjects after influenza vaccination. Therefore, zinc and selenium are relevant for immunosenescence in order to achieve healthy ageing and longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Immunosenescence: Basic Understanding and Clinical Applications
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9781402090639, 9781402090622
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of zinc and selenium in oxidative stress and immunosenescence: Implications for healthy ageing and longevity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this