Project Details


This application addresses the hypothesis that differences in dietary zinc
content and zinc nutriture may affect the immune response in the elderly.
We further hypothesize that the mechanism of improvement in the immune
response is both a correction of underlying zinc deficiency and a
pharmacologic (drug) effect of high doses of zinc, with the latter effect
being more important for most patients. The subjects of this study will be
elderly adults who will be divided into 3 groups based on an initial
determination of their plasma zinc concentration (less than 60 ug/dl, 60-80
ug/dl, or greater than 80 ug/dl). Subjects from the 3 groups will be
randomly assigned to one of three treatments: 15 mg Zn daily, 100 mg Zn
daily, or a placebo. Administration of Zn or placebo will continue for one
year. Blood and hair samples will be collected at 0, 3, 6, 12, and 24
months after beginning zinc administration. The following tests will be
done to assess subject zinc nutriture: plasma Zn, hair Zn, plasma alkaline
phosphatase, serum albumin, and erythrocyte zinc. Immunocompetence will be
assessed by several methods, including evaluation of delayed dermal
hypersensitivity, in vitro response of lymphocytes to mitogens and
antigens, assessment of lymphocyte surface markers, and evaluation of
natural killer cell function. Subject nutriture for copper will also be
assessed by measurement of plasma concentrations of copper. Subjects will
be monitored for three years for infectious diseases, cancers, and
mortality from all causes. Data will be analyzed by a multiple regression
approach to analysis of covariance. The study will allow determination of
whether the expected beneficial effects of zinc on immunocompetence are due
to correction of mild to moderate zinc deficiency and/or to a pharmacologic
effect of high doses of zinc, and thus provide data on the mechanisms by
which zinc produces its beneficial effects. Assessing a variety of
measures of immunocompetence will allow determination of those most
favorably affected by zinc administration. Theoretically, both infectious
diseases and carcinogenesis could be favorably affected by enhanced
cellular immunity. Thus, considerable benefit could be derived from a
study of the effects of zinc on cellular immunity in the elderly, a group
with a high incidence of both cancers and life-threatening infectious
Effective start/end date7/1/8410/31/87


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)

Fingerprint Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.