Zinc as an active ingredient against bacterial diseases

Antimicrobial effect of zinc proven

An Australian research team has opened new Details about the role of zinc in our immune system. Apparently, the mineral for the development of new non-antibiotic treatment strategies for bacterial diseases. The researchers were able to show in a recent study, zinc pathogens Escherichia coli baktierien tribes fought – the main cause of urinary tract infections.

Urinary tract infections are among the most common bacterial infections. In severe cases, you can skip to the kidneys and blood poisoning (Sepsis). Australian Researchers from the University of Queensland under the direction of Professor Matt Sweet, Professor Mark Schembri and Dr Ronan Kapetanovic showed how our immune system uses the mineral zinc to fight bacteria. The results of the study were recently presented in the prestigious scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)”.

Our immune system uses zinc to bacteria-fighting

That zinc has a toxic effect on bacteria was already known. New, however, is that our immune system makes this effect to their advantage. “We have confirmed that cells in our immune system zinc-free bacterial infections beseitigen“, Dr. Kapetanovic explained in a press release announcing the study results. More specifically, zinc is used of the so-called macrophages. They are a type of white blood cells (leukocytes) and are part of our immune system.

Some bacteria avoid zinc

During the studies, the researchers found, also, that some pathogenic bacteria are capable of the zinc to avoid. “We have found that some of the pathogenic E-Coli strains of the zinc can avoid toxicity,” says the microbiologist. These bacteria show an increased resistance against the toxic effects of the zinc. Here, the Team of Dr. Kapetanovic sees an approach to the development of a new treatment strategy against bacterial diseases by the bacteria, for example, are made more susceptible to zinc, or an escape before the zinc is prevented.

Zinc could replace in some places antibiotics

“Treatment strategies that do not use antibiotics, have the advantage that bacteria do not develop resistance,” explains the expert. If the researchers succeed, make the immune cells stronger or change the way they react to bacteria, could be suitable for the zinc to combat resistant bacteria.

First steps are already done

The research team managed to identify the entire Gene of E. coli, which contribute to the protection against zinc. “This Knowledge provides a potential way for the development of antimicrobials for the treatment of Harnwegsinfektionen“, Dr. Duy Phan added to the study team.

Not only against urinary tract infections effective

“Macrophages use zinc toxicity against various types of bacteria,” says PhD student Claudia Stocks. As zinc is, for example, against Salmonella, Streptococcus and tuberculosis pathogens effectively. The Team now wants to adapt in further studies, specific zinc sensors to various species of bacteria in order to understand the immune system better. The researchers set themselves the goal of developing a whole series of new therapies against infectious diseases. (vb)