Huang's studies of zinc in prostate cells may reveal more about the role of
this nutrient in human prostate health. Click the image for more information
Testing Your Zinc: Is the ZIP1 Gene the Best
Choice? By Marcia Wood August 22, 2005
Zinc from foods like beef, oysters, dark-meat poultry and sunflower
seeds helps us grow and keeps our brains and immune systems functioning. This
essential mineral might best be measured with a test based on the activity of a
gene called ZIP1. That's according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research geneticist
Huang and colleagues.
Right now, physicians and nutrition researchers don't have a zinc test
that's easy to use, sensitive, fast and reliable. A test based on the
ZIP1 gene might fill that gap.
The gene contains instructions that cells use to form a protein of the
same name. When cells need zinc, the ZIP1 protein can shuttle zinc from the
bloodstream, through the cell membrane and into the cell.
Foods rich in zinc
include chicken, eggs, cheese, oysters, beef and peanuts. Click the image
for more information about it.
Twenty-five healthy females, age 20 to 25 or 64 to 75, volunteered for
a ZIP1 study. About half of the women took a 22-milligram zinc supplement every
day. The others did not. All volunteers ate their usual meals, which provided
about 7 milligrams of zinc daily.
Scientists checked white blood cell samples taken at the beginning and
end of the study. Their intent? To determine whether ZIP1 gene activity
was affected by zinc supplementation.
At study's end, the ZIP1 gene was less active in the white
blood cells of the zinc-supplemented volunteers than in their counterparts.
This suggests that ZIP1 gene activity reflects the amount of zinc in the
Huang is continuing the ZIP1 research, which she and colleagues
described in the Journal of
Nutrition in 2004. Huang, based at the ARS
Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., collaborated on the work
with nutrition center chemist
R. Woodhouse; Karl B. Adree, formerly at the center; and with
co-investigators from the University of California at Davis,
University of California Davis Medical Center, Children's Hospital Oakland (Calif.) Research
Institute, and Seoul (South
Korea) National University.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.