The aim of the current study was to determine if induction of metallothionein (MT) via acute or chronic dietary zinc supplementation attenuates intestinal inflammation, and to investigate the relationship with site-specific intestinal MT determined by immunolocalization. Growing rats were assigned to zinc-deficient (ZD), acute zinc-treated (ZT), pair-fed, control or chronic Zn-supplemented (ZS) groups. Half the rats in each dietary group received 5% dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) in their drinking water for 4 days. DSS treatment produced acute intestinal inflammation in the colon only, however, dietary zinc deficiency, acute zinc treatment or chronic zinc supplementation did not alter the severity of ulceration. Serum zinc concentrations were attenuated in the DSS-challenged ZT and ZS groups suggesting that zinc was being utilized in some capacity in response to inflammation. DSS-challenge induced MT immunostaining in the colonic submucosa, however, MT was not associated with histological improvements in the present study. The site-specific MT induction in colonic submucosa during intestinal inflammation requires further clarification as a component of the host defense
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