The brain is one of the sites that has been shown to be particularly sensitive to zinc deficiency during fetal development, with neural-tube defects and other disorders being found. While this work was performed in animals, a similar relationship appears likely in humans. Zinc is distributed throughout the brain, but greater concentrations are found within the hippocampus. Here, a brain-specific transporter, ZnT-3, concentrates zinc in vesicles within glutama-tergic neurones. It is co-secreted with the neuro-transmitter and appears to serve as a modulator of neurotransmission. Very high concentrations of zinc (>100 mM) are found within the synaptic cleft during this process. In addition, brain injury resulting from ischemia or trauma causes the release of massive amounts of zinc, which is thought to be responsible for the resultant cell death.
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