Inga Wessels, Benjamin Rolles, Lothar Rink
The Potential Impact of Zinc Supplementation on COVID-19 Pathogenesis
During the current corona pandemic, new therapeutic options against this viral disease are urgently desired. Due to the rapid spread and immense number of affected individuals worldwide, cost-effective, globally available, and safe options with minimal side effects and simple application are extremely warranted. This review will therefore discuss the potential of zinc as preventive and therapeutic agent alone or in combination with other strategies, as zinc meets all the above described criteria. While a variety of data on the association of the individual zinc status with viral and respiratory tract infections are available, study evidence regarding COVID-19 is so far missing but can be assumed as was indicated by others and is detailed in this perspective, focusing on re-balancing of the immune response by zinc supplementation. Especially, the role of zinc in viral-induced vascular complications has barely been discussed, so far. Interestingly, most of the risk groups described for COVID-19 are at the same time groups that were associated with zinc deficiency. As zinc is essential to preserve natural tissue barriers such as the respiratory epithelium, preventing pathogen entry, for a balanced function of the immune system and the redox system, zinc deficiency can probably be added to the factors predisposing individuals to infection and detrimental progression of COVID-19. Finally, due to its direct antiviral properties, it can be assumed that zinc administration is beneficial for most of the population, especially those with suboptimal zinc status.