Zinc acetate treatment in Wilson’s disease


Objective: To briefly review the pathophysiology and diagnosis of Wilson’s disease, and to evaluate the pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, clinical utility, adverse effects, dosing regimens, and pharmacoeconomics of zinc acetate therapy in Wilson’s disease.

Data sources: A MEDLINE search (December 1966-December 1996) of the English-language literature using the terms zinc and Wilson’s disease was conducted to identify pertinent clinical trials, review articles, and case reports. Additional articles were selected from bibliographies of the reviewed literature.

Study selection and data extraction: Due to the rarity of the disease, all articles were considered for possible inclusion in this review. Single case reports are referenced, but were not selected for evaluation.

Data synthesis: Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder of copper metabolism, is fatal if untreated. The chelating drugs penicillamine and trientine have been the mainstay of therapy; however, adverse reactions of chelators often interfere with successful treatment. Recently, zinc acetate was approved in the US for maintenance therapy in patients initially treated with a chelating agent. Although studies evaluating large populations are lacking zinc therapy has demonstrated exceptional safety and efficacy over a period of 40 years. Zinc acetate can be used during pregnancy and for the treatment of presymptomatic patients, although data do not support its use as monotherapy in patients with acute neurologic or hepatic disease.

Conclusions: Zinc acetate is an effective maintenance therapy for patients with Wilson’s disease. Negligible toxicity, compared with that of previously approved treatments, is a major advantage.

PMID: 9475826 DOI: 10.1345/aph.17075

Source: L A Anderson 1, S L Hakojarvi, S K Boudreaux

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