Zinc and Viral Infections

Zinc is an essential trace element that is crucial for development growth, and the maintenance of function. Its influence reaches all organs and cell types, surrounding hundreds of transcription factors and enzymes, and representing an integral component of approximately 10% of the human proteome. Zinc deficiency is common, affecting up to a quarter of the populace in developing countries, but also affecting distinct populations in the developed world as a result of disease-mediated factors, age, and lifestyle. Consequently, zinc status is a vital element that can affect antiviral immunity as zinc-deficient inhabitants are often most vulnerable to acquiring infections like HIV or hepatitis C virus. This review summarizes current basic science and clinical evidence analyzing zinc as a direct antiviral, in addition to a stimulant of antiviral immunity. An abundance of evidence has accumulated over the last 50 y to demonstrate zinc’s action also via mechanics that were numerous. The therapeutic use of zinc for viral diseases like herpes simplex virus and the frequent cold has stemmed from these findings; however, there is much to be learned regarding the antiviral mechanisms and clinical benefit of zinc supplementation as a preventative and curative treatment for viral infections.


– Inhibition of RdRp template binding and elongation. PT + Zn(OAc)2
Effective dose: 2–320 μM PT + 2–500 μM Zn

Encephalomyocarditis virus

– Inhibition of viral polyprotein cleavage. ZnCl2
Effective dose: 0.4–1.5 mM
– Inhibition of viral polyprotein cleavage. ZnCl2
Effective dose: 0.1–1 mM
– Inhibition of viral polyprotein tertiary structure. PT, HK
Effective dose: 5–20 μM PT, 60–125 μM HK
– Inhibition of viral polyprotein tertiary structure. PDTC
Effective dose: 15–125 μM PDTC

Foot and mouth disease virus

– Inhibition of viral polyprotein cleavage. ZnCl2, Zn(OAc)2
Effective dose: 0.1–2 mM
– Inhibition of viral RNA and procapsid synthesis. ZnCl2
Effective dose: 10–150 μM

Hepatitis C virus

– Inhibition of RNA polymerase. ZnCl2
Effective dose: 60–300 μM
– Inhibition of viral replication. ZnCl2, ZnSO4
Effective dose: 50–150 μM
– Metallothionein-dependent inhibition of viral replication. ZnSO4
Effective dose: 50 μM

Djoumana Ounas

Djoumana Ounas

Pharmacist Assistant Professor in Analytical Chemisty. Consultance Expertise and Reglatory Biotech Support.

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