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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 6762343, 21 pages
Review Article

Roles of Zinc Signaling in the Immune System

1Osteoimmunology, Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum, Berlin, Germany
2Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tokushima Bunri University, Tokushima, Japan

Received 1 July 2016; Accepted 11 August 2016

Academic Editor: Manoj K. Mishra

Copyright © 2016 Shintaro Hojyo and Toshiyuki Fukada. 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 (Zn) is an essential micronutrient for basic cell activities such as cell growth, differentiation, and survival. Zn deficiency depresses both innate and adaptive immune responses. However, the precise physiological mechanisms of the Zn-mediated regulation of the immune system have been largely unclear. Zn homeostasis is tightly controlled by the coordinated activity of Zn transporters and metallothioneins, which regulate the transport, distribution, and storage of Zn. There is growing evidence that Zn behaves like a signaling molecule, facilitating the transduction of a variety of signaling cascades in response to extracellular stimuli. In this review, we highlight the emerging functional roles of Zn and Zn transporters in immunity, focusing on how crosstalk between Zn and immune-related signaling guides the normal development and function of immune cells.