Plasma zinc's alter ego is a low-molecular-weight humoral factor

Ou Ou, Keith Allen-Redpath, Dagmar Urgast, Margaret-Jane Gordon, Gill Campbell, Jörg Feldmann, Graeme F. Nixon, Claus-Dieter Mayer, In-Sook Kwun, John H. Beattie* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Mild dietary zinc deprivation in humans and rodents has little effect on blood plasma zinc levels, and yet cellular consequences of zinc depletion can be detected in vascular and other tissues. We proposed that a zinc-regulated humoral factor might mediate the effects of zinc deprivation. Using a novel approach, primary rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) were treated with plasma from zinc-deficient (2500 genes, compared to incubation of cells with zinc-adequate rat plasma. We demonstrated that this effect was caused by a low-molecular-weight (~2-kDa) zinc-regulated humoral factor but that changes in gene expression were mostly reversed by adding zinc back to zinc-deficient plasma. Strongly regulated genes were overrepresented in pathways associated with immune function and development. We conclude that zinc deficiency induces the production of a low-molecular-weight humoral factor whose influence on VSMC gene expression is blocked by plasma zinc. This factor is therefore under dual control by zinc.- Ou, O., Allen-Redpath, K., Urgast, D., Gordon, M.-J., Campbell, G., Feldmann, J., Nixon, G. F., Mayer, C.-D., Kwun, I.-S., and Beattie, J. H. Plasma zinc's alter ego is a low-molecular-weight humoral factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3672-3682
Number of pages11
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number9
Early online date31 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • atherosclerosis
  • microarray
  • smooth muscle
  • zinc deficiency


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