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Zinc: Multiple Applications in Immunity

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Felicity Bean ● 2 min read

Zinc is involved in many immune reactions, including appropriate response to infections.

Bronchiectasis is the abnormal and permanent dilation of the bronchi and infection is often responsible for the occurrence of this disease state.

A 2013 published analytical, cross-sectional study was performed on patients with diagnosed brochiectasis and healthy control subjects over two years. Serum zinc concentration was significantly lower in the patients with bronchiectasis compared to the control group. Knowing that zinc supplementation can halt the progression of infectious diseases such as brochiectasis, as it can improve immune reactions, prompted the authors to suggest that the prophylactic and therapeutic use of zinc should be further evaluated.[1]

Another 2013 study compared the blood and scalp hair of males with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and healthy male controls. HIV positive males were shown to have significantly lower zinc levels compared to healthy controls. It was hypothesised that zinc deficiency in HIV may contribute to secondary infections and thus increase mortality rates.[2]

One of the most common pregnancy complications, recurrent spontaneous abortion (RSA) is classed as three or more clinically detectable failures of pregnancy prior to 20 weeks gestation. Several factors are believed to play a role in RSA including endocrine hormones, anatomical problems and immunological factors amongst others.

Immunotherapy with lymphocytes (LIT) provides an important prevention and treatment option for women with RSA. LIT aides in the production of anti-paternal cytotoxic antibodies. The presence of these antibodies make for a better chance of a successful pregnancy outcome.

Researchers investigated the correlation between serum zinc levels and the success of LIT treatment for RSA. Serum zinc levels were found to be significantly higher in women who responded to treatment and tested positive for the antibodies, as opposed to those who tested negative and were unresponsive. It was concluded that zinc deficiency may be one of the substantial causes of negative results from LIT treatment and that compensating with zinc prior to commencing treatment may improve the immune response and outcome for the patient.[3]


  1. JavadMoosavi SA, Shahabi Shahmiri S, Mostafapour E, et al. Comparison of the Serum Concentration of Zinc in Patients With Bronchiectasis and Control Group. Iran Red Crescent Med J 2013;15(7):587-589. [Full Text]
  2. Asdamongkol N, Phanachet P, Sungkanuparph S. Low plasma zinc levels and immunological responses to zinc supplementation in HIV- infected patients with immunological discordance after antiretroviral therapy. Jpn J Infect Dis 2013:66(6):469-474. [Full Text
  3. Zare A, Saremi A, Hajhashemi M, et al. Correlation between serum zinc levels and successful immunotherapy in recurrent spontaneous abortion patients. J Hum Reprod Sci 2013;6(2):147-151. [Full Text


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Felicity Bean
Felicity is a qualified Naturopath with over 15 years experience in the natural health industry. She has worked in pharmacy in both Melbourne and London and more recently in sales as a practitioner consultant for one of Australia's leading nutraceutical companies. Currently Felicity is a freelance health writer whilst also completing her Masters in Human Nutrition at Deakin University. Felicity has a passion for nutrition and the concept of food as medicine.