Zinc-gene interaction related to inflammatory/immune response in ageing

Eugenio Mocchegiani, Marco Malavolta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pivotal role played by zinc-gene interaction in affecting some relevant cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-α) and heat shock proteins (HSP70-2) in ageing, successful ageing (nonagenarians) and the most common age-related diseases, such as atherosclerosis and infections, is now recognized. The polymorphisms of genes codifying proteins related to the inflammation are predictive on one hand in longevity, on the other hand they are associated with atherosclerosis or severe infections. Since the health life-span has a strong genetic component, which in turn also affected by nutritional factors like zinc, the association of these polymorphisms with innate immune response, zinc ion bioavailability and Metallothioneins (MT) homeostasis is an useful tool to unravel the role played by zinc-gene interactions in longevity, especially due to the inability of MT in zinc release in ageing and chronic inflammation. In ageing, this last fact leads to depressed innate immune response for host defence. In contrast, in very old age the inflammation is lower with subsequent more zinc ion bioavailability, less MT gene expression and satisfactory innate immunity. Therefore, the zinc-gene (IL-6, TNF-α, Hsp70-2) interactions, via MT homeostasis, are crucial to achieve successful ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-75
Number of pages15
JournalGenes and Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Cytokine
  • Heat Shock protein
  • Immune response
  • Inflammation
  • Longevity
  • Metallothionein
  • Polymorphism
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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