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November 10, 1956

THE METABOLIC ROLE OF ZINC

Author Affiliations

Boston

From the Biophysics Research Laboratory of the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

JAMA. 1956;162(11):1053-1057. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.72970280005012

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Abstract

The metabolic role of zinc has been studied for many years,1 but it was not until 1940 that Keilin and Mann offered the first concrete explanation of its mode of action.2 They showed that the enzyme carbonic anhydrase contains 0.33% zinc as a part of its molecule and that zinc is essential to the elimination of carbon dioxide. Thus, zinc and iron have been shown to be components of two proteins, hemoglobin and carbonic anhydrase, pivotal from the point of view of respiratory gas exchange. This work foreshadowed the identification of zinc as a participant in other important enzymatic reactions. Information concerning the physiological and biochemical role of zinc in plant and animal metabolism has been accumulated and reviewed.3 Therefore, to avoid unnecessary duplication, this paper will cover some of the salient facets of the physiological, biochemical, and clinical implications of zinc metabolism, emphasizing recent observations.

Physiology 

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