Tel.+49 30 838 52256 Fax.+49 30 838-55938
High dietary zinc concentrations are used to prevent or treat diarrhea in piglets and humans, but long-term adaptation to high zinc supply has yet not been assessed. Intestinal zinc uptake is facilitated through members of zinc transporter families SLC30 (ZnT) and SLC39 (ZIP). Whereas in rodents, regulation of zinc homeostasis at low or adequate zinc supply has been described, such mechanisms are unclear in piglets. A total of 54 piglets were fed diets containing 57 [low dietary zinc (LZn)], 164 [normal dietary zinc (NZn)], or 2425 [high dietary zinc (HZn)] mg/kg dry matter zinc. After 4 wk, 10 piglets/group were killed and jejunal tissues taken for analysis of zinc transporters SLC30A1 (ZnT1), SLC30A2 (ZnT2), SLC30A5 (ZnT5), SLC39A4 (ZIP4), divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), and metallothionein-1 (MT). Weight gain was higher (P < 0.05) in pigs fed HZn than in the LZn and NZn groups during the first 2 wk. Food intake did not differ between groups. The digesta and jejunal tissue zinc concentrations were higher (P < 0.05) in the HZn pigs than in NZn and LZn pigs. Expression of ZnT1 was higher (P < 0.05) and ZIP4 lower (P < 0.05) in HZn pigs than in the 2 other groups, whereas expression of ZnT5 and DMT1 did not differ between treatments. Expression of ZnT2 was lower (P < 0.05) in the LZn group than in the HZn and NZn groups. The mRNA expression and protein abundance of MT was higher (P < 0.05) in the HZn group than in the NZn and LZn groups. Studies with intestinal porcine cell line intestinal epithelial cell-J2 confirmed the dose-dependent downregulation of ZIP4 and upregulation of ZnT1 and MT (P < 0.05) with increasing zinc concentration within 24 h. In conclusion, high dietary zinc concentrations increase intracellular zinc, promote increased zinc export from intestinal tissues into extracellular compartments, and decrease zinc uptake from the gut lumen. The adaptive process appears to be established within 24 h; however, it does not prevent tissue zinc accumulation.