Better Understanding Of Zinc In Our Body Key To Improved Treatments For Diabetes

Zinc is an essential trace metal vital for many biological functions in the human body. It plays a crucial role in more than 300 enzymes residing in the body, which as a whole, contains about 2–3 grams of zinc. Researchers have been trying to find how antioxidants, specifically zinc, are not only good for human health, but also good for diabetes.

The team of scientists, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), are one of those researchers who are working to arrive at a better understanding of zinc in our body.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases. Because of the damage it causes to the blood vessels, people with diabetes are up to three times more likely to develop conditions like heart attacks, stroke and vascular dementia.

The number of people with diabetes in India increased from 26·0 million (95% UI 23·4–28·6) in 1990 to 65·0 million (58·7–71·1) in 2016. The prevalence of diabetes in adults aged 20 years or older in India increased from 5·5% (4·9–6·1) in 1990 to 7·7% (6·9–8·4) in 2016.

Researchers, led by Dr. Alan Stewart of the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, have published their findings in Chemical Science. It has revealed that zinc in the blood is compromised in those with type 2 diabetes due to the increased levels of fatty acids. These fatty acids prevent zinc being carried in the normal way allowing zinc to interact with clot-activating proteins and potentially triggering dangerous blood clots.

The study has assumed significance as it has discovered a new way that vascular problems can occur in certain individuals.

Principal investigator and Senior Lecturer, Dr. Stewart, said: “Our research suggests that by altering how zinc is handled, elevated levels of fatty acids in the circulation can contribute to the formation of unwanted and potentially dangerous blood clots.

“Ultimately, we hope that these findings will aid the development of new therapeutic strategies to reduce vascular disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes, as well as other diseases associated with high levels of plasma fatty acids.

James Jopling, head of BHF Scotland, said: “Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes—conditions which can severely affect the quality of life.

“As such, it is vital we understand more about it and how to treat it. Research projects like this one in St Andrews help inform how we treat patients, identify those at particular risk and ultimately find new ways to save and improve lives.”

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