, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 325–332 | Cite as

Zinc and the Diabetic Heart

  • Ye Song
  • Jianxun Wang
  • Xiao-kun Li
  • Lu CaiEmail author


Zinc (Zn) is an essential mineral that is required for various cellular functions. Its abnormal metabolism is related to certain disorders such as diabetic complications. Oxidative stress has been considered as the major causative factor for diabetic cardiomyopathy. Zn has a critical antioxidant action in protecting the heart from various oxidative stresses. Zn deficiency was found to be a risk factor for cardiac oxidative damage and supplementation with Zn provides a significant prevention of oxidative damage to the heart. Diabetes causes a significant systemic oxidative stress and also often is accompanied by Zn deficiency that increases the susceptibility of the heart to oxidative damage. Therefore, there is a strong rationale to consider the strategy of Zn supplementation to prevent or delay diabetic cardiomyopathy. This short article collects the preliminary evidence, based on our own studies and those by others, for a preventive effect of Zn supplementation on diabetes-induced injury to the heart in animals and under in vitro conditions. Possible mechanisms by which Zn supplementation prevents diabetic heart disease are discussed. They include an antioxidant action of Zn, insulin function and metallothionein induction. In the final section, the future of Zn supplementation for diabetic patients is also briefly discussed. Although Zn supplementation has not been clinically used to prevent diabetic complications, because several issues need to be addressed, the fact that Zn supplementation is being used clinically for other disorders encourages us to explore its direct clinical application for the prevention of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Key words

antioxidant diabetic complications diabetic hearts oxidative stress zinc 





endothelial NOS


glutathione peroxidase




high levels of glucose



MTT assay

a cytotoxic assay by measuring the reduction of tetrazolium compound into an insoluble formazan product


nitric oxide


NO synthase


reactive oxygen species


superoxide dismutase




Zrt-,Irt-like protein




Zn transporter


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biopharmacy, College of Pharmacy, and Biopharmaceutical Research & Development CenterJinan UniversityGuangzhouP.R. China
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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