Zinc Status Assessment by Analysis of Mononuclear Cell Metallothionein mRNA Using Competitive-Reverse Transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction

  • Lee, Soo-Lim (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Andong National University) ;
  • Yoon, Jin-Sook (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Keimyung University) ;
  • Kwon, Chong-Suk (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Andong National University) ;
  • Beattie, John H. (Cellular Integrity Division, Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom) ;
  • Kwun, In-Sook (Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Andong National University)
  • 발행 : 2004.09.01


Marginal Zn deficiency is prevalent through the world and yet human zinc status has not been properly assessed due to the lack of a reliable diagnostic indicator. One potential possibility for zinc status assessment using Zn-binding protein, metallothionein (MT)-mRNA, has been proposed. The purpose of the present study was aimed to show whether measurement of mononuclear cell (MNC) MT mRNA, using a competitive-reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (competitive-RT-PCR) assay, could indicate zinc status in human subjects. In this study, MNC MT-mRNA expression was measured using a competitive-RT-PCR to compare before and after 14 days of zinc supplementation (50 mg Zn/das zinc gluconate). RT-PCR oligonucleotide primers which were designed to amplify both a 278 bp segment of the human MT-2A cDNA and a 198 bp mutant competitor cDNA template from MNCs, were prepared. MT-2A mRNA was normalized by reference to the housekeeping gene, $\beta$-actin, mRNA for which was also measured by competitive-RT-PCR. There was considerable inter-individual variation in MT-mRNA concentration and yet, the mean MT-2A mRNA level increased 4.7-fold after Zn supplementation, as compared to before Zn supplementation. This MT-2A mRNA level was shown as the same pattern and, even more sensitive assay, compared to the conventional plasma and red blood cells (RBCs) Zn assessment in which plasma and RBCs zinc levels increased 2.3- and 1.2-fold, respectively (p<0.05). We suggest that MT competitive-RT-PCR can be a useful assessment tool for evaluating human zinc status.


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