Immune response and metabolic regulation are closely connected with each other in such a way that dysfunction could lead to a variety of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus (Dm), lipid metabolism disorders, and fatty liver disorders. Combined with uncritical “sugar-based” overeating and malnutrition, these multisystem metabolic diseases expand into a global epidemic. There are correlations between a fatty liver disease and diabetic metabolism state. A fatty liver leads to insulin resistance and thus to the development of a type 2 Dm; insulin resistance in turn augments the fatty liver. Zinc is a trace element of fundamental importance for a variety of biological processes. The liver is the main organ of the zinc metabolism. Metallothionein and zinc transporters are the key regulators of cellular zinc homeostasis. Molecular studies support the assumption of a correlation between zinc and Dm. Zinc is essential for the synthesis, secretion, and storage of insulin. ZnT8 is a significant autoantigen for type 1 Dm. Genetic polymorphisms in the ZnT8 gene are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 Dm. Cellular zinc restriction induces the release of stress, particularly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). ER stress alone or coupled with cellular stress, as well as chronic inflammation, are central to the development of insulin resistance and type 2 Dm. The present insights into the context of a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and a type 2 Dm indicate that zinc and zinc transporters at the cellular level in various forms and in interactions with other mediators both in the regulation of physiological processes and in the formation of pathological processes, such as the cellular and ER stress, as well as chronic inflammation, and the development of metabolic disorders are involved.
Part of the book: Liver Research and Clinical Management