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Essentiality, Toxicology and Chelation Therapy of Zinc and Copper

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Both zinc and copper are essential minerals that are required for various cellular functions. Although these metals are essential, they can be toxic at excess amounts, especially in certain genetic disorders. Zinc and copper homeostasis results from a coordinated regulation by different proteins involved in uptake, excretion and intracellular storage/trafficking of these metals. Apart from zinc transporters (ZnT) families and Cu-ATPase, metallothionein is an important storage protein for zinc and copper. Metallothioneins are intracellular polypeptides with a remarkable ability to bind metallic ions. These proteins bind both essential metals indispensable for the organism and also toxic metals (e.g. cadmium or lead). Metallothioneins play a critical role to maintain zinc and copper homeostasis. In this review, we summarize the toxicity of zinc and copper and the potential treatment for zinc or copper toxicity by zinc- or copper-specific chelators as well as strategy to upregulate metallothionein.
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Keywords: copper; copper chelator; metallothionein; oxidative damage; zinc; zinc chelator

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Medicine, the University of Louisville, 511 South Floyd Street, MDR 533, Louisville, KY, 40202, USA.

Publication date: 01 November 2005

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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