Zinc is an essential mineral required for various cellular functions, including DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, and immune function but it is a highly regulated and controlled mineral within the body. Recently zinc also has become better known for playing an important role in inhibiting the replication of viruses. Zinc can interfere with the replication of many different types of viruses, including RNA viruses such as coronaviruses.
A “Zinc Ionophore” is a specialised molecule that is capable of transporting zinc across a cell membrane, which would otherwise prevent the zinc from entering the cell. Zinc ionophores generateunique antiviral properties because they can increase the concentration of zinc inside the cell, and it this increase concentration of zinc inside the cell that produces an antiviral effect.
Zinc ionophores can increase the intracellular concentration of zinc by facilitating and enabling the transport of zinc ions across cellular membranes. Once inside the cell, zinc ions can inhibit the replication of viruses by interfering with various stages of the viral replication cycle. For example, zinc can inhibit viral RNA synthesis, interfere with viral protein processing, and disrupt the assembly and release of new viral particles.
One of the most widely studied zinc ionophores is a pharmaceutical compound called hydroxychloroquine, which has been shown to have antiviral effects against several different viruses, including coronaviruses. However, the safe use of hydroxychloroquine as an antiviral agent is still controversial and requires further study.
Other zinc ionophores that have been studied for their antiviral properties include the natural compounds of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG). These compounds have been shown to have antiviral effects in vitro and in animal models, but their efficacy in humans has not been fully established due to their poor bioavailability.
Recently advances in the improvement of the bioavailability of quercetin have shown significant promise as an antiviral agent.
Overall, natural zinc ionophores such as quercetin can be effective antiviral agents by increasing the intracellular concentration of zinc, which can interfere with the replication of a variety of different viruses, including coronaviruses. However, more research is being conducted to fully understand the mechanisms of how zinc ionophores work and to determine the exact dosage which is suitable for treating viral infections in humans. The current scientific data suggests an optimal dose of quercetin for maximum antiviral effect is around 5g per day, due to it poor bioavailability.
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