Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

ZINCAGE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506850
Funded under: FP6-FOOD
Country: Italy

Zinc guidelines for the elderly

Ageing is accompanied by many deterioration factors, a major one being degeneration of the immune system. Zinc may be one answer to boost the body's defences and an EU-funded project has completed research to put together much-needed guidelines for dosage.
Zinc guidelines for the elderly
Zinc is one of the antioxidant micronutrients that controls immune cell development and function as well as activity of stress-related protein, and helps to maintain genetic stability. Ageing is sometimes accompanied by a decrease in dietary zinc levels or inadequate absorption.

As there may clearly be a link to zinc intake and age-related degenerative diseases like cancer, the Zincage project aimed to study the physiological behaviour of zinc in relation to immune function. The overall objective was to generate advice on which individuals could benefit from supplementation. Zinc is toxic in excessive levels so level of dosage is particularly important.

Zincage examined the mineral's metabolism from a genetic, biochemical, cellular and molecular perspective. After the vital processes necessary for an efficient immune system were analysed, the activity of zinc in lymphocytes was tested, before and after supplementation.

All tests were carried out on subjects who were ageing satisfactorily as well as those with age-related diseases. Samples of DNA were analysed to identify interaction of genetic material with zinc. A simple genetic screening test was applied to all under study to identify people at risk from zinc deficiency.

Interestingly, the research scientists focused on the different dietary habits of northern and southern Europeans. The project participants came from various European countries and differences in diet were taken into account.

Zincage scientists have significantly increased the knowledge base on zinc and its effects on the immune system. A firm platform will provide the input for a comprehensive set of guidance rules on who will be able to benefit from zinc supplementation in old age.

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