, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 1123-1134,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Jun 2011

Zinc homeostasis and signaling in health and diseases

Abstract

The essential trace element zinc (Zn) is widely required in cellular functions, and abnormal Zn homeostasis causes a variety of health problems that include growth retardation, immunodeficiency, hypogonadism, and neuronal and sensory dysfunctions. Zn homeostasis is regulated through Zn transporters, permeable channels, and metallothioneins. Recent studies highlight Zn’s dynamic activity and its role as a signaling mediator. Zn acts as an intracellular signaling molecule, capable of communicating between cells, converting extracellular stimuli to intracellular signals, and controlling intracellular events. We have proposed that intracellular Zn signaling falls into two classes, early and late Zn signaling. This review addresses recent findings regarding Zn signaling and its role in physiological processes and pathogenesis.

This article is part of a JBIC special issue on metallothioneins.