Zinc (Zn) is an essential trace element which has favorable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and apoptotic effects. The liver mainly plays a crucial role in maintaining systemic Zn homeostasis. Therefore, the occurrence of chronic liver diseases, such as chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, or fatty liver, results in the impairment of Zn metabolism, and subsequently Zn deficiency. Zn deficiency causes plenty of metabolic abnormalities, including insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis and hepatic encephalopathy. Inversely, metabolic abnormalities like hypoalbuminemia in patients with liver cirrhosis often result in Zn deficiency. Recent studies have revealed the putative mechanisms by which Zn deficiency evokes a variety of metabolic abnormalities in chronic liver disease. Zn supplementation has shown beneficial effects on such metabolic abnormalities in experimental models and actual patients with chronic liver disease. This review summarizes the pathogenesis of metabolic abnormalities deriving from Zn deficiency and the favorable effects of Zn administration in patients with chronic liver disease. In addition, we also highlight the interactions between Zn and other trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, or hormones in such patients.
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