Jankowski-Hennig MA, Clegg MS, Daston GP, Rogers JM, Keen CL. 2000. Zinc-deficient rat embryos have increased caspase 3-like activity and apoptosis. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 271:250–256.
Caspase activity is a hallmark of apoptosis. Given that maternal zinc (Zn) deficiency results in apoptosis in the rat embryo, we assessed caspase activity in Zn-deficient embryos. Mid-gestation rat embryos were collected from dams fed either a Zn-deficient (0.5 Zn/g) diet ad libitum, or a Zn-adequate (25 microg Zn/g) diet ad libitum or pair fed to dams fed the Zn-deficient diet. Embryos from dams fed the Zn-adequate diet had a normal level of cell death, while embryos from the dams fed the Zn-deficient diet had either increased or normal levels of cell death. Zn-deficient embryos displaying increased cell death had increased caspase activity. Embryos with normal levels of cell death, regardless of maternal diet, had similar caspase activities. Thus, Zn-deficiency-induced apoptosis in vivo is associated with increased caspase activity.