The interrelationship between zinc uptake, status and the gut microbiome

Project leaders: Dr Johanita Kruger and Prof John Taylor

Despite the many dire public health consequences of zinc deficiency, data on global and national zinc status is still largely an estimate as there is no convenient, reliable biomarker. While zinc supplementation has been found to improve zinc status and the functioning of the immune system and level of cognition in children, it seems probable that it could also alter the intestinal microbiome profile positively. This in turn could reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal infections. An understanding of the effect of increased zinc uptake and absorption on the microbiome profile could aid in the development of more efficient intervention strategies of both iron and zinc.

The primary aim of this on-going study is to improve interventions to alleviate zinc deficiencies by characterising the currently unknown interrelationship between zinc intake and the gut microbiome profile. Secondly, the study aims to identify a marker probiotic or pathogenic bacteria or specific microbiome profile which can serve as a reliable zinc status biomarker.

- Author IFNuW

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