Cśruloplasmin - the Pathology

Several diseases are associated with deficits or surpluses of copper, and there is a lot of evidence that smaller inbalances can have affects in other ailments - particularly heart disease. It was whilst studying ischemia that our attention was drawn to the copper in human blood plasma, and more recently from an association between homocysteine, caeruloplasmin and coronary artery vein graft failure after heart bypass operations. So what are normal levels of copper in humans?

"Normal levels"

Normal levels of cśruloplasmin in blood plasma are between about 20 and 40 mg/dl (11-24 µM). The adult body has 50-120 mg of copper.

There is also a two to three fold increase in Cp levels during pregnancy, and oral contraceptives lead to similar increases. Additionally, because it is an acute-phase reactant and an anti-inflammatory agent there is an increase in inflammatory disease. Quote from: Metalloprotein Research Group, Guys Hospital

Copper intake of 2-3 mg / day is usually suggested for adults. Copper is actively transported through the intestinal wall, carried in a special protein, ceruloplasmin, in the blood, and stored in the liver. VM.C interferes with copper availability. Copper deficiency produces an anemia, indistinguishable from iron deficiency. Copper plays a role in iron absorption and mobilization. Copper, deficiency impairs the formation of connective tissue proteins, collagen and elastin. Weak bone (osteoporosis) and defective arterial walls are the more obvious manifestations. In animals, copper deficiency may result in dramatic death from rupture of a major blood vessel, or the heart itself. It is not clear that these events in human pathology are related to copper deficiency, but suggests that cooper intake should be carefully evaluated in patients with cardiovascular disease. Copper deficiency also contributes to increased blood cholesterol.


A medical publication in 1867 reported that, during the cholera epidemics in Paris of 1832, 1849 and 1852, copper workers did not develop cholera. One snippit from a fascinating article which links copper with some cancers, cardiovascular disease, immune system function, inflammation and arthritus, osteoporosis, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), explores copper and pregnancy, seizures, and the longevity of the French! The excellence of copper pots for cooking is also extoled!

Skinbiology.com: Copper: Your Body's Protective & Anti-Aging Metal

Food sources of copper (mg/100g): Oyster 7.6; Whelks 7.2; Lamb’s liver 6.0; Crab 4.8; Brewer’s yeast 3.3; Olives 1.6; Hazelnuts 1.4; Shrimps 0.8; Cod 0.6; Wholemeal bread 0.25; Peas 0.2; Non-food sources of copper include copper pipes (especially those carrying soft water) and copper cooking/food-processing equipment.


A review (1991) from the ICA - the International Copper Research Association by Prof A.G.Lewis of UBC. This examines what copper does to organisms, its environmental sources and routes, and the relation between the chemistry of copper and it's biological importance.

The Biological Importance of Copper: 395K Adobe pdf Download

"Abnormal levels"

Copper deficiency is associated with fetal prematurity, malnutrition, malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, and hyperalimentation with mineral-deficient infusates. In early copper deficiency, neutropenia and hypochromic anemias may be seen. Additionally, patients may exhibit bone and joint abnormalities associated with defects in collagen cross-linking (e.g., osteoporosis), decreased skin pigmentation, and neurological abnormalities (e.g., hypotonia, apnea, psychomotor retardation). Studies have also indicated an association with subclinical copper deficiency and coronary heart disease.

Copper and Copper-Ceruloplasmin Index