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Diabetes, metallothionein, and zinc interactions: A review

Abstract

Epidemiological evidence, associating diabetes with zinc (Zn) deficiencies, has resulted in numerous research studies describing the effects of Zn and associated metallothionein (MT), on reducing diabetic complications associated with oxidative stress. MT has been found to have a profound effect on the reduction of oxidative stress induced by the diabetic condition. Over expression of MT in various metabolic organs has also been shown to reduce hyperglycaemia-induced oxidative stress, organ specific diabetic complications, and DNA damage in diabetic experimental animals, which have been further substantiated by the results from MT-knockout mice. Additionally, supplementation with Zn has been shown to induce in vivo MT synthesis in experimental animals and to reduce diabetes related complications in both humans and animal models. Although the results are promising, some caution regarding this topic is however necessary, due to the fact that the majority of the studies done have been animal based. Hence more human intervention trials are needed regarding the positive effects of MT and Zn before firm conclusions can be made regarding their use in the treatment of diabetes.