Copper and zinc toxicity and its role in innate immune defense against bacterial pathogens [Molecular Bases of Disease]

June 8th, 2015 by Djoko, K. Y., Ong, C.-l. Y., Walker, M. J., McEwan, A. G.

Zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) are essential for optimal innate immune function and nutritional deficiency in either metal leads to increased susceptibility to bacterial infection. Recently, the decreased survival of bacterial pathogens with impaired Cu and/or Zn detoxification systems in phagocytes and animal models of infection has been reported. Consequently, a model has emerged in which the host utilises Cu and/or Zn intoxication to reduce the intracellular survival of pathogens within phagocytes. This review describes and assesses the potential role for Cu and Zn intoxication in innate immune function and their direct bactericidal function.