Wed Nov 22, 5:04 PM ET
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) — Zinc plays an important role in the transmission of signals between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord, a new European study says.
Researchers bred mice with a mutation that affected a zinc receptor in neurons and found that the mice had tremors, altered transmission of visual signals, and were slower to right themselves when turned over than normal mice. The mutated mice also had an enhanced startle response to sudden noise.
Further investigation revealed that the mice had significant zinc-related abnormalities in the transmission of signals at the synapses (connections) among neurons, the study said.
For about 50 years, scientists have been trying to prove that zinc plays a role in neuronal signaling. The study, published in the Nov. 22 issue of the journal Neuron, appears to provide evidence of the importance of zinc in that process.
“The data presented in our paper disclose a pivotal role of ambient synaptic (zinc ion) for glycinergic neurotransmission in the context of normal animal behavior,” the study authors wrote.