The measurement of intracellular zinc is used to estimate the actual levels of the metal within the cells and is performed by measuring the concentration of zinc within the red blood cells.
Zinc (Zn) is a key chemical element and is found to be incorporated into many metalloproteins in the human body. Zinc plays important role in nucleic acid metabolism, cell reproduction, and tissue repair and growth.
Zinc deficiency is associated with a number of pathological conditions, such as impaired immune system function and weakened immunity, delayed growth, brain development disorders, and delayed wound healing. In addition, many reports indicate that zinc is involved in various mechanisms in the development of cancer and that it can directly affect cancer cells by regulating the profiles of their gene expression and cell viability. On the other hand, zinc can also indirectly affect cancer cells by affecting processes in their microenvironment, such as regulating immune responses.
Zinc deficiency can be due to a lack of proper dietary intake or an excess of other metals such as copper or iron, which impede the body's ability to properly absorb zinc. Conditions that can contribute to zinc deficiency include Crohn's disease and other diseases that interfere with metal absorption, a diet low in meat and seafood, chronic stress, anemia, alcoholism, and pregnancy. Symptoms of zinc deficiency may include recurrent infections, slow-healing wounds, diarrhea, hair loss, recurrent skin rashes or acne, and a diminished sense of taste or smell.
Dietary zinc toxicity is extremely unusual. Toxicity is usually due to taking dietary supplements without the necessary testing, to industrial exposure, or to exposure to zinc-containing household products such as paints, varnishes, and cleaning products. Zinc toxicity can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, anemia, and decreased levels of "good” cholesterol.
Measurement of intracellular zinc can detect metal deficiency earlier and more accurately than the standard serum zinc testing.
Measurement of Intracellular Trace Elements
Measuring intracellular metals and trace elements by measuring them within red blood cells (RBCs) is an excellent method for assessing the deficiency or excess of elements with important functions within cells or within cell membranes. The measurement of intracellular metals and trace elements is used to assess the status of key elements with important intracellular functions such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium, and zinc.