Recently, zinc emerged as an important signaling molecule, activating intracellular pathways and regulating cell fate, although our knowledge remains incomplete. Zinc is required in many enzymatic and metabolic pathways, playing roles as enzyme cofactors. In normal cell physiology, optimal zinc availability is essential for regular growth and proliferation. Zinc accumulation has varied effects: from stimulation to inhibition of cell growth, depending on type. There is evidence that zinc is capable of inducing apoptosis in some cancers, while others proved that zinc may act as apoptosis activator depending on the dose and cell type. Upregulation of telomerase in most cancer tissues is considered to be responsible for unlimited proliferation of cancer cells, and in some cell lines, it was induced by Zn. These suggest that Zn is highly involved in cell cycle and metabolism; whether it goes to the survival or the cancer pathway depends on the concentration and the cell type involved. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that Zn is not just another trace element; but a vital one and further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms involved in cancer and metastatic spread in order to identify potential therapies.
Part of the book: Nutritional Deficiency