Zinco, invecchiamento e sistema immunitario: effetti sull'apoptosi e sulla proliferazione dei linfociti

Ostan, Rita (2008) Zinco, invecchiamento e sistema immunitario: effetti sull'apoptosi e sulla proliferazione dei linfociti, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biotecnologie mediche, 20 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/702.
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Immunosenescence is characterized by a complex remodelling of the immune system, mainly driven by lifelong antigenic burden. Cells of the immune system are constantly exposed to a variety of stressors capable of inducing apoptosis, including antigens and reactive oxygen species continuously produced during immune response and metabolic pathways. The overall homeostasis of the immune system is based on the balance between antigenic load, oxidative stress, and apoptotic processes on one side, and the regenerative potential and renewal of the immune system on the other. Zinc is an essential trace element playing a central role on the immune function, being involved in many cellular processes, such as cell death and proliferation, as cofactor of enzymes, nuclear factors and hormones. In this context, the age associated changes in the immune system may be in part due to zinc deficiency, often observed in aged subjects and able to induce impairment of several immune functions. Thus, the aim of this work was to investigate the role of zinc in two essential events for immunity during aging, i.e. apoptosis and cell proliferation. Spontaneous and oxidative stress-induced apoptosis were evaluated by flow cytometry in presence of a physiological concentration of zinc in vitro on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from healthy subjects of different age: a group of young subjects, a group of old subjects and a group of nonagenarians. In addition, cell cycle phases were analyzed by flow cytometry in PBMCs, obtained from the subjects of the same groups in presence of different concentration of zinc. We also analyzed the influence of zinc in these processes in relation to p53 codon 72 polymorphism, known to affect apoptosis and cell cycle in age-dependent manner. Zinc significantly reduces spontaneous apoptosis in all age-groups; while it significantly increases oxidative stress-induced late apoptosis/necrosis in old and nonagenarians subjects. Some factors involved in the apoptotic pathway were studied and a zinc effect on mitochondrial membrane depolarization, cytochrome C release, caspase-3 activation, PARP cleavage and Bcl-2 expression was found. In conclusion, zinc inhibits spontaneous apoptosis in PBMCs contrasting the harmful effects due to the cellular culture conditions. On the other hand, zinc is able to increase toxicity and induce cell death in PBMCs from aged subjects when cells are exposed to stressing agents that compromise antioxidant cellular systems. Concerning the relationship between the susceptibility to apoptosis and p53 codon 72 genotype, zinc seems to affect apoptosis only in PBMCs from Pro- people suggesting a role of this ion in strengthening the mechanism responsible of the higher propensity of Pro- towards apoptosis. Regarding cell cycle, high doses of zinc could have a role in the progression of cells from G1 to S phase and from S to G2/M phase. These effect seems depend on the age of the donor but seems to be unrelated to p53 codon 72 genotype. In order to investigate the effect of an in vivo zinc supplementation on apoptosis and cell cycle, PBMCs from a group of aged subjects were studied before and after six weeks of oral zinc supplementation. Zinc supplementation reduces spontaneous apoptosis and it strongly reduces oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. On the contrary, no effect of zinc was observed on cell cycle. Therefore, it’s clear that in vitro and in vivo zinc supplementation have different effects on apoptosis and cell cycle in PBMCs from aged subjects. Further experiments and clinical trials are necessary to clarify the real effect of an in vivo zinc supplementation because this preliminary data could encourage the of this element in all that disease with oxidative stress pathogenesis. Moreover, the expression of metallothioneins (MTs), proteins well known for their zinc-binding ability and involved in many cellular processes, i.e. apoptosis, metal ions detoxification, oxidative stress, differentiation, was evaluated in total lymphocytes, in CD4+ and in CD8+ T lymphocytes from young and old healthy subjects in presence of different concentration of zinc in vitro. Literature data reported that during ageing the levels of these proteins increase and concomitantly they lose the ability to release zinc. This fact induce a down-regulation of many biological functions related to zinc, such as metabolism, gene expression and signal transduction. Therefore, these proteins may turn from protective in young-adult age to harmful agents for the immune function in ageing following the concept that several genes/proteins that increase fitness early in life may have negative effects later in life: named “Antagonistic Pleyotropy Theory of Ageing”. Data obtained in this work indicate an higher and faster expression of MTs with lower doses of zinc in total lymphocytes, in CD4+ and in CD8+ T lymphocytes from old subjects supporting the antagonistic pleiotropic role of these proteins.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Ostan, Rita
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
zinco invecchiamento sistema immunitario
Data di discussione
24 Giugno 2008

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