Zinc is an essential trace element that is required for the function of a wide variety of enzymes and transcription factors. One such enzyme requiring zinc is collagenase III, an enzyme involved in wound healing. Notably, a coordinated zinc icon is also required for zinc fingers, which are important DNA-binding structural motifs.
Since zinc plays such an important biological role, Zinc Deficiency leads to a number of characteristic signs and symptoms. Given its role in collagenase III, zinc deficiency therefore presents with delayed wound healing. Furthermore, zinc deficiency is characterized by decreased adult hair, notably in the axillary, facial, and pubic regions. It also leads to a number of sensory problems, such as anosmia (loss of smell) and dysgeusia (loss of taste). Zinc deficiency can also lead to liver problems, as it predisposes patients to alcoholic cirrhosis. Another notable characteristic is hypogonadism.
Finally, acrodermatitis enteropathica is a metabolic disorder that affects zinc uptake through the bowel mucous membrane. It is most notably characterized by a perioral, perianal, and perianal rash.
Find Zinc among our Vitamins playlist in Pixorize's visual mnemonics for the USMLE Step 1 and NBME shelf exams.