Zinc status, metallothioneins and atherosclerosis in the elderly

Eugenio Mocchegiani, Robertina Giacconi, Marco Malavolta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Zinc status, inflammation, and genetic determinants are prominent mechanisms in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis (AT) and its compliances (cardiovascular diseases). In this review, we report the possible impact of zinc onAT development as well as the role played by a significant genetic determinant involved in inflammation, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6). Genetic polymorphism of IL-6 may affect a different inflammatory response as well as zinc turnover, predisposing to AT. Indeed, zinc deficiency is suggested as a risk factor forAT with advancing aging. The increment of dysfunctional proteins involved in zinc homeostasis, i.e. metallothioneins (MT), caused by persistent inflammation and oxidative stress may further contribute to zinc deficiency and consequently to the development of AT. A zinc supplementation may be useful to achieve healthy aging and, as such, to prevent AT, but it is necessary to consider the individual genetic background (especially when referred to IL-6 and MT polymorphisms) for the success of zinc intervention. Therefore, a zinc genomic approach may offer a reasonable hope for understanding the impact of zinc on molecular processes that maintain health and prevent the development of AT.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetallothioneins in Biochemistry and Pathology
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789812778949, 9812778934, 9789812778932
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Elderly
  • Genetic background
  • Inflammation
  • Metallothioneins
  • Oxidative stress
  • Polymorphism; atherosclerosis
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Mocchegiani, E., Giacconi, R., & Malavolta, M. (2008). Zinc status, metallothioneins and atherosclerosis in the elderly. In Metallothioneins in Biochemistry and Pathology (pp. 271-286). World Scientific Publishing Co.. https://doi.org/10.1142/9789812778949_0013