Author(s): Ugarte M, Osborne NN
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Abstract Experimental evidence exists to suggest that zinc can have positive and negative effects on the physiology of cells depending on the "local" concentration, localisation (extracellular vs. intracellular) and/or state (bound vs. free). The retina contains particularly high amounts of zinc suggesting a pivotal role in the tissue. There is also suggestive evidence that zinc deficiency in humans may result in abnormal dark adaptation and/or age-related macular degeneration. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of various proposed functions for zinc, particularly in the retina. Endogenous chelatable zinc in the retina is localised mainly to the photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelial cells. Moreover, the zinc localisation in the photoreceptors varies in dark and light, suggesting a role for zinc in a light-regulated process. Some zinc is also located to other areas of the retina but clearly defined zinc-enriched neurones could not be identified as has been shown to occur in certain areas of the brain. Neurones post-synaptic to zinc-enriched neurones in the brain have been suggested to be particularly vulnerable in ischaemia. The role of zinc in retinal ischaemia has been investigated to determine how it is involved in the process. It would appear that when zinc is administered in low concentrations it generally has a positive effect on an insulted retina as in ischaemia. However, higher concentrations of zinc exacerbates the influence of the insult and also acts as a toxin. Use of zinc supplements in diet must, therefore, be taken with caution.
This article was published in Prog Neurobiol
and referenced in Journal of Membrane Science & Technology