Authors: Cereda G, Ciappolino V, Boscutti A, Cantu F, Enrico P, Oldani L

PMID: 34634109 PMCID: PMC8524565 DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmab110


The outbreak of the pandemic associated with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) led researchers to find new potential treatments, including nonpharmacological molecules such as zinc (Zn2+). Specifically, the use of Zn2+ as a therapy for SARS-CoV-2 infection is based on several findings: 1) the possible role of the anti-inflammatory activity of Zn2+ on the aberrant inflammatory response triggered by COronaVIrus Disease 19 (COVID-19), 2) properties of Zn2+ in modulating the competitive balance between the host and the invading pathogens, and 3) the antiviral activity of Zn2+ on a number of pathogens, including coronaviruses. Furthermore, Zn2+ has been found to play a central role in regulating brain functioning and many disorders have been associated with Zn2+ deficiency, including neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, and brain injuries. Within this context, we carried out a narrative review to provide an overview of the evidence relating to the effects of Zn2+ on the immune and nervous systems, and the therapeutic use of such micronutrients in both neurological and infective disorders, with the final goal of elucidating the possible use of Zn2+ as a preventive or therapeutic intervention in COVID-19. Overall, the results from the available evidence showed that, owing to its neuroprotective properties, Zn2+ supplementation could be effective not only on COVID-19-related symptoms but also on virus replication, as well as on COVID-19-related inflammation and neurological damage. However, further clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of Zn2+ as a nonpharmacological treatment of COVID-19 are required to achieve an overall improvement in outcome and prognosis.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; inflammation; micronutrient; neuroprotection; neuropsychiatry; supplementation; zinc.

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