Zinc involvement in opioid addiction and analgesia – should zinc supplementation be recommended for opioid-treated persons?
During the last two decades Zinc (Zn) as a micronutrient is being used indiscriminately in agricultural and husbandry practices and also in baby foods and multivitamin supplements with a view that Zn is non-toxic and promotes linear growth and body weight in the consumers. The long-term effect of increasing Zn load in the body has not been worked out so far. In this study, three groups of rats were fed on a semi-synthetic diet containing 20 mg (control, group-I), 40 mg (group-II) and 80 mg Zn /kg (group-III) diet respectively for 6 months. The results revealed that the gain in body weight increased in rats in Zn-concentration dependent manner. The urine examined on weekly basis showed glucosuria in group-II on week 10 and in group-III on week 8 and thereafter. The arterial blood pressure was significantly higher in group-II and III than their control counter parts on monthly basis. Histochemical examination of skin revealed an increase in the number of adipocytes filled with triglycerides making a subcutaneous fatty tissue thicker in group-II and group-III than that of control group. The blood profile after 180 days of dietary treatment, displayed a significant rise in glucose, total lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol, insulin, cortisol and aldosterone whereas HDL-cholesterol, T3, T4 and TSH showed a reduction in their levels in the blood serum. The tissue metal status showed an increase of Zn, Cu and Mg in the serum, a rise in Zn in liver, hair and abdominal muscles and fall in Cu and Mg concentrations in liver, hair and abdominal muscles. This data suggest that Zn in excess in diet when fed for longer periods of time induces metabolic syndrome-X.