Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 338, Issue 1–2, pp 241–254 | Cite as

Role of nutritional zinc in the prevention of osteoporosis

  • Masayoshi YamaguchiEmail author


Zinc is known as an essential nutritional factor in the growth of the human and animals. Bone growth retardation is a common finding in various conditions associated with dietary zinc deficiency. Bone zinc content has been shown to decrease in aging, skeletal unloading, and postmenopausal conditions, suggesting its role in bone disorder. Zinc has been demonstrated to have a stimulatory effect on osteoblastic bone formation and mineralization; the metal directly activates aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase, a rate-limiting enzyme at translational process of protein synthesis, in the cells, and it stimulates cellular protein synthesis. Zinc has been shown to stimulate gene expression of the transcription factors runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2) that is related to differentiation into osteoblastic cells. Moreover, zinc has been shown to inhibit osteoclastic bone resorption due to inhibiting osteoclast-like cell formation from bone marrow cells and stimulating apoptotic cell death of mature osteoclasts. Zinc has a suppressive effect on the receptor activator of nuclear factor (NF)-κB ligand (RANKL)-induced osteoclastogenesis. Zinc transporter has been shown to express in osteoblastic and osteoclastic cells. Zinc protein is involved in transcription. The intake of dietary zinc causes an increase in bone mass. β-Alanyl-l-histidinato zinc (AHZ) is a zinc compound, in which zinc is chelated to β-alanyl-l-histidine. The stimulatory effect of AHZ on bone formation is more intensive than that of zinc sulfate. Zinc acexamate has also been shown to have a potent-anabolic effect on bone. The oral administration of AHZ or zinc acexamate has the restorative effect on bone loss under various pathophysiologic conditions including aging, skeletal unloading, aluminum bone toxicity, calcium- and vitamin D-deficiency, adjuvant arthritis, estrogen deficiency, diabetes, and fracture healing. Zinc compounds may be designed as new supplementation factor in the prevention and therapy of osteoporosis.


Zinc Bone formation Bone resorption Osteoporosis 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipids, Department of MedicineEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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