Copper

Keywords: Cu

Specimen:

5 mL blood in lithium heparin or plain tube, which must be metal-free.

Consult pathologist to determine if a special tube is required.

Method:

Atomic absorption spectrophotometry, ICP-MS.

Reference Interval:

13-22 µmol/L.

Application:

Diagnosis of Wilson's disease, Menkes disease and, occasionally, investigation of copper status in parenteral alimentation.

Investigation of suspected copper toxicity.

Interpretation:

Low levels may occur in Wilson's disease, but urinary and liver copper are better diagnostic tests. Low levels also occur in Menkes disease.

Plasma copper is not a valid indicator of general health and nutritional status.

See also Copper urine and Caeruloplasmin.

Reference:

Danks DM. Eur J Paediatr 1991; 150: 142-148.