Research team finds link between zinc and macular degeneration

Aug 27, 2007

A team of scientists, including three researchers at George Mason University, found that the mineral zinc could play a role in the development of macular degeneration. In studying eye tissue samples, the researches found that deposits, that are hallmarks of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), contain large amounts of zinc.

This finding, published in the journal Experimental Eye Research, might be particularly important because zinc supplements are widely given to patients to help boost weak immune systems. In addition, a 2001 study from the National Eye Institute found that high doses of zinc supplements, combined with antioxidants, may postpone the progression to blindness.

AMD is a medical condition in which the macula, the place of central vision in the eye, experiences atrophy and in some cases bleeding. It is the primary cause of blindness in the elderly in Western society and approximately 13 million Americans suffer from the disease according to AMD Alliance International.

“Because earlier findings have shown that that zinc contributes to deposit formation in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, we were prompted to test the theory that zinc might be involved in deposit formation in AMD,” said Mason professor of psychology, Jane Flinn.

“The double-edged sword is that zinc has been found to enhance the immune system, but also could play a role in the advancement of macular degeneration,” said Imre Lengyel of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in London, who led the collaborative study.

“We now know that we need to take a closer look at the role zinc plays in the development of AMD,” said Mason graduate psychology student Katherine Cano. “We believe this finding will help us unlock other answers to the mystery of treating this disease.”

The team hopes their findings can be useful in the development of new treatments as well as a more informed approach to zinc intake recommendations.

The study was supported by the Moorfields Eye Hospital Special Trustees and Mercer Fund, a U.S. Department of Energy grant and a Wilkins AMD fund grant.

Source: George Mason University

Explore further: Startup commercializing innovation to reduce neurotoxin that damages nerve cells, triggers pain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Russian and American astronauts return to Earth

23 minutes ago

Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut returned to Earth on Thursday after spending more than six months working together aboard the International Space Station, as tensions between their countries ...

Mexican 'water monster' salamander battles extinction

13 minutes ago

Dubbed the "water monster" by the Aztecs, the axolotl salamander is battling extinction in the remnants of Mexico City's ancient lake, alarming scientists hoping mankind learns from its ability to regenerate organs.

Astronomers pinpoint 'Venus Zone' around stars

8 hours ago

San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane and a team of researchers presented today the definition of a "Venus Zone," the area around a star in which a planet is likely to exhibit the unlivable ...

History books becoming next fight in Texas schools

9 hours ago

The next ideological fight over new textbooks for Texas classrooms intensified Wednesday with critics lambasting history lessons that they say exaggerate the influence of Moses in American democracy and negatively portray ...

Recommended for you

Cellular protein may be key to longevity

Sep 15, 2014

Researchers have found that levels of a regulatory protein called ATF4, and the corresponding levels of the molecules whose expression it controls, are elevated in the livers of mice exposed to multiple interventions ...

Gut bacteria tire out T cells

Sep 15, 2014

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Me ...

T-bet tackles hepatitis

Sep 15, 2014

A single protein may tip the balance between ridding the body of a dangerous virus and enduring life-long chronic infection, according to a report appearing in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

User comments : 0