Zinc and Growth Factors

  • D. Bouglé
  • F. Bureau


Zinc is essential for growth in humans and animals. The features of Zn deficiency described by Prasad (1) include retarded growth, delayed sexual maturation, skin abnormalities and bone alterations such as open epiphyses. Delays in linear and bone growth and in bone maturation are common and early findings in various conditions associated with Zn deficiency. Zn deprivation causes in a few days decreases in taste acuity and appetite that leads to lower food intake. This anorexia has been related to an inability of the organism to metabolize nitrogen (2, 3). In previously deficient Zn supplemented subjects the increase in growth rate is associated with an increase in food intake and efficiency. Other non specific factors involved in the relationship between Zn and growth include increased activities of enzymes involved in nucleic acid metabolism, protein synthesis and cell division. Zn deficiency causes decrease in protein synthesis within a few days (4, 5); protein utilization is impaired in Zn deficiency (6). Food efficiency is decreased in Zn deficiency (8). Short-life protein levels are increased by Zn supplementation (7) which also leads to an enhancement of immunity and protection against infections. Besides these general effects of Zn on anabolism, protein synthesis, and therefore on growth, it has been observed that Zn deficiency impairs growth even in pair-fed animals on a control diet (4, 8, 9), implying that Zn has specific effects on growth. These effects are mediated by growth hormone and related factors.


Growth Hormone Growth Hormone Level Growth Hormone Response Taste Acuity Partial Growth Hormone Deficiency 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Bouglé
    • 1
  • F. Bureau
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physiologie Digestive et NutritionnelleService de Pédiatrie AFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biochimie ACentre Hospitalo Universitaire de CaenFrance

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