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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2015, Article ID 167503, 7 pages
Review Article

Zinc Transporters and Zinc Signaling: New Insights into Their Role in Type 2 Diabetes

University of Tasmania (UTAS), School of Health Sciences, Newnham Campus, Launceston, TAS 7250, Australia

Received 25 February 2015; Revised 7 April 2015; Accepted 12 April 2015

Academic Editor: Amelie Bonnefond

Copyright © 2015 Stephen A. Myers. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Zinc is an essential trace element that plays a vital role in many biological processes including growth and development, immunity, and metabolism. Recent studies have highlighted zinc’s dynamic role as a “cellular second messenger” in the control of insulin signaling and glucose homeostasis. Accordingly, mechanisms that contribute to dysfunctional zinc signaling are suggested to be associated with metabolic disease states including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. The actions of the proteins that control the uptake, storage, and distribution of zinc, the zinc transporters, are under intense investigation due to their emerging role in type 2 diabetes. The synthesis, secretion, and action of insulin are dependent on zinc and the transporters that make this ion available to cellular processes. This suggests that zinc plays a previously unidentified role where changes in zinc status over time may affect insulin activity. This previously unexplored concept would raise a whole new area of research into the pathophysiology of insulin resistance and introduce a new class of drug target with utility for diabetes pharmacotherapy.