Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

Dr. Douglas R. Seals

Abstract

Aging is associated with the development of vascular dysfunction, which is attributed to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) [14]. Researching possible intervention methods that promote healthy vascular aging is therefore a great biomedical priority. Essential nutrient zinc (Zn) is involved with many important biological processes including those believed to be associated with vascular function such as antiinflammatory and antioxidant activities [1]. However, specific mechanisms are still unknown, and investigation of the effect of zinc on vascular function is limited. Using the data collected through the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory (IPA), we tested the hypothesis that zinc deficiency is linked with vascular dysfunction in healthy middle age/older adults (MA/O) (n=289, Ages 50-79). Correlational analysis as well as between-group analysis (low-zinc status versus high-zinc status; low zinc-body mass ratio versus high zinc-body mass ratio) showed no significant relationship between zinc intake and direct vascular health measures such as Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) and vasodilation measures (endothelium dependent dilation/endothelium independent dilation). However, improvements in humoral factors such as TNF-α, oxidized LDL, and NADPH oxidase were observed with higher dietary zinc intake. Although the result was inconsistent, this study supports other literature’s argument on zinc’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Discrepancy in the result suggests the necessity for further research identifying zinc’s promising capability in preventing CVD.

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