Open Access Research article

Psychological stress induced zinc accumulation and up-regulation of ZIP14 and metallothionein in rat liver

Xue Tian1, Yuanyuan Zheng2, Yingjie Li1, Zhilei Shen1, Liping Tao1, Xiao Dou1, Jianxin Qian3* and Hui Shen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Naval Hygiene, Second Military Medical University, 800 Xiangyin Road, Shanghai 200433, PR China

2 Department of Immunology, Second Military Medical University, No. 800 Xiangyin Road, Shanghai 200433, China

3 Department of Medical Oncology, Changzheng Hospital, No. 64 Hetian Road, Shanghai 200070, China

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:32  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-32

Published: 18 February 2014



Zinc is necessary for normal liver function; and vice versa, the liver plays a central role in zinc homeostasis. The aim of present study is to assess the effects of repeated psychological stress (PS) on the zinc metabolism and related mechanism involved in zinc homeostasis in rat liver.


In present study, we used communication box to create PS model and investigated the serum corticosterone (CORT), zinc level in serum and liver, liver metallothionein (MT) content and ZRT/IRT-like Protein 14 (ZIP14) mRNA expression.


The results showed that the serum CORT level increased and serum zinc level decreased significantly after 7 d and 14 d PS treatment. Meanwhile, zinc and MT contents in liver were elevated after 14 d PS exposure, while those in 7 d PS exposure group did not change. ZIP14 mRNA was expressed markedly at 7 d after the onset of PS, while Zip14 mRNA expression in the liver after 14 d PS exposure reached normal level compared with control group.


The results suggest that PS exposure could induce hypozincemia, which might be related to liver zinc accumulation because of high level of MT through glucocorticoid-mediated MT synthesis and ZIP14 expression induced by interleukin-6.

Psychological stress; Zinc; ZIP14; Metallothionein; Liver; Corticosterone