Zinc plays an important role in the transmission
of signals between nerve cells (neurons)
in the brain and spinal cord, a new European
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.