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The Copper test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Copper test measures the concentration of copper in the blood's plasma. Copper is an essential trace mineral that plays a vital role in various physiological processes, including the formation of red blood cells, connective tissue, and the functioning of the nervous system.

This test is currently experiencing delays due to a large influx of specimens and a limited number of machines available for performing the test. Please expect an additional 10 days for the test to be processed.

Also Known As: Cu Test, Blood Copper Test, Free Copper Test, Hepatic Copper Test, Copper Serum Test, Copper Plasma Test, Copper Blood Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Plasma or Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Copper test ordered?

A Copper test may be ordered in the following situations:

  1. Evaluation of Wilson's Disease: Wilson's disease is a genetic disorder characterized by impaired copper metabolism, leading to copper accumulation in various organs, particularly the liver and brain. The Copper test is a key diagnostic tool for evaluating copper levels in individuals suspected of having Wilson's disease.

  2. Monitoring Copper Therapy: For individuals undergoing copper supplementation or chelation therapy, regular monitoring of copper levels is essential to ensure therapeutic efficacy and avoid toxicity.

  3. Assessment of Nutritional Status: In certain cases, a Copper test may be ordered to assess copper levels as part of a comprehensive evaluation of nutritional status, especially in individuals with malnutrition or conditions that affect copper absorption.

What does a Copper blood test check for?

Copper is an important mineral that the body uses to make enzymes. These enzymes are involved in the regulation of iron metabolism, the development of connective tissue, cellular energy production, the production of melanin, and nervous system function. This test determines how much copper is present in the blood, urine, or liver.

Nuts, chocolate, mushrooms, seafood, whole grains, dried fruits, and liver are all high in copper. Copper may be absorbed into drinking water as it passes through copper pipes, and copper may be absorbed into food as it is cooked or served on copper dishes. Copper is absorbed from food or liquids in the intestines, converted to a non-toxic form by binding it to a protein, and transported to the liver in normal circumstances. To make the enzyme ceruloplasmin, the liver saves some copper and binds the remainder to another protein called apoceruloplasmin. Ceruloplasmin binds about 95 percent of the copper in the blood, with the rest attached to other proteins like albumin. In a free condition, only a little amount is present in the blood. Excess copper is excreted by the liver in the bile, which is then excreted by the body in the feces. Copper is also excreted in the urine in small amounts.

Copper excess and deficiency are uncommon. Wilson disease is a rare genetic ailment that causes the liver, brain, and other organs to store too much copper. Excess copper can arise when a person is exposed to and absorbs high amounts of copper in a short period of time or little amounts over a long period of time.

Copper deficiency can arise in patients with severe malabsorption diseases such cystic fibrosis and celiac disease, as well as infants who are exclusively fed cow-milk formulas.

Menkes kinky hair syndrome is a rare X-linked hereditary disorder that causes copper shortage in the brain and liver of affected babies. Seizures, delayed development, aberrant artery growth in the brain, and unique gray brittle kinky hair are all symptoms of the condition, which mostly affects men.

Lab tests often ordered with a Copper test:

When a Copper test is ordered, it's often part of a broader evaluation of metabolic disorders, nutritional status, or liver function. Several other tests are commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Ceruloplasmin:

    • Purpose: Ceruloplasmin is a protein that binds the majority of the copper in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To help evaluate the total copper status in the body, as a significant portion of copper is carried by ceruloplasmin. Low levels can be associated with Wilson’s disease, a disorder of copper metabolism.
  2. 24-Hour Urinary Copper:

    • Purpose: Measures the amount of copper excreted in the urine over a 24-hour period.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Increased urinary copper excretion can be a sign of Wilson's disease. It's also used to monitor the treatment of Wilson’s disease.
  3. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Copper metabolism is closely related to liver function, and disorders like Wilson's disease can lead to liver damage.
  4. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: Provides a broad picture of overall blood health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To check for anemia and other blood cell abnormalities that can occur with copper imbalance.
  5. Zinc Level:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of zinc in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Copper and zinc can affect each other's absorption and metabolism. Zinc therapy is used in the treatment of Wilson’s disease to reduce copper absorption.
  6. Iron Studies:

    • Purpose: To assess iron status in the body.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To rule out or diagnose iron-related disorders, which can have symptoms similar to copper-related disorders.
  7. Kidney Function Test:

    • Purpose: To evaluate kidney function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Kidney function can affect and be affected by copper levels.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Copper test, provide a comprehensive view of an individual’s copper metabolism, liver function, and overall nutritional status. They are particularly useful in diagnosing and managing conditions related to copper imbalance, such as Wilson's disease, and in assessing the impact of these conditions on overall health. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual's symptoms, medical history, and initial test results.

Conditions where a Copper test is recommended:

A Copper test may be necessary for the evaluation of the following conditions or diseases:

  1. Wilson's Disease: The Copper test is a crucial diagnostic tool for identifying individuals with Wilson's disease, a genetic disorder characterized by abnormal copper accumulation.

  2. Malnutrition: In cases of malnutrition or conditions affecting copper absorption, a Copper test can help determine copper deficiency or imbalances.

  3. Monitoring Copper Therapy: Individuals undergoing copper supplementation or chelation therapy require regular monitoring of copper levels to ensure the effectiveness of treatment and prevent toxicity.

How does my healthcare provider use a Copper test?

Healthcare providers use the results of the Copper test to:

  1. Diagnose Wilson's Disease: Abnormal copper levels in conjunction with clinical symptoms and other diagnostic findings help establish the diagnosis of Wilson's disease.

  2. Assess Nutritional Status: Copper levels assist in evaluating nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, aiding in the formulation of appropriate dietary interventions or supplementation plans.

  3. Monitor Copper Therapy: Regular monitoring of copper levels ensures the effectiveness and safety of copper therapy, allowing healthcare providers to make necessary adjustments in dosage or treatment regimen.

It is important to note that interpretation of Copper test results requires medical expertise. Test results should be evaluated alongside the patient's medical history, clinical presentation, and other laboratory findings to make accurate diagnoses and guide appropriate management decisions.

What do my Copper test results mean?

Copper test findings are frequently linked to ceruloplasmin levels and considered in context. Copper results that are abnormal are not indicative of a specific illness; rather, they signal that more research is needed. Because ceruloplasmin is an acute phase reactant, it might be raised if inflammation or severe infections are present, making interpretation difficult. Ceruloplasmin and copper levels rise during pregnancy, as well as with the use of estrogen and oral contraceptives.

Wilson disease is characterized by low blood copper concentrations, elevated urine copper levels, low ceruloplasmin levels, and increased liver copper.

Elevated copper concentrations in the blood and urine, as well as normal or increased ceruloplasmin levels, may suggest excessive copper exposure or be linked to disorders that reduce copper excretion, such as chronic liver disease, or release copper from tissues, such as acute hepatitis. Chronic diseases can cause an increase in hepatic copper levels.

Copper deficiency is indicated by lower copper concentrations in the blood and urine, as well as lower ceruloplasmin levels.

A normal hepatic copper test could mean that copper metabolism is normal, or that the distribution of copper in the liver is uneven, and that the sample isn't reflective of the person's health.

If a person is being treated for Wilson disease or copper toxicity with copper-binding medicines, their 24-hour urine copper levels may be high until their body copper stores are depleted. Copper concentrations in the blood and urine should return to normal over time.

If a person is being treated for a copper deficient disorder and their ceruloplasmin and total copper levels start to rise, the condition is likely responding to the treatment.

Most Common Questions About the Copper test:

Understanding the Copper Test and Its Importance

What is the Copper test?

The Copper test is a blood test that measures the amount of copper in the blood. Copper is an essential mineral that plays a role in iron metabolism, energy production, and neurotransmitter synthesis.

What is the main purpose of a Copper test?

The main purpose of a Copper test is to detect too much or too little copper in the body. It's often used to help diagnose and monitor conditions like Wilson's disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes excessive copper accumulation, or Menkes disease, which leads to low copper levels.

Who might need a Copper test?

Individuals who might need a Copper test are those who are experiencing symptoms of copper deficiency or excess, which can include fatigue, paleness, skin sores, edema, or jaundice. It might also be used to monitor individuals who are taking copper supplements or those with conditions that can affect copper absorption, like celiac disease.

Interpreting Results and Abnormal Findings

What do normal Copper test results look like?

Normal results for the Copper test depend on a person's age and sex, but generally, normal serum copper values fall between 70 and 140 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL). However, values can vary slightly among different laboratories due to variations in testing equipment, measurements, and analysis.

What could high levels of copper in a test result indicate?

High levels of copper in a test result could indicate Wilson's disease, an inherited disorder that results in excess copper stored in the liver, brain, and other organs. Other conditions associated with high copper levels include liver disease, certain types of anemia, and excess intake from dietary supplements.

What could low levels of copper in a test result indicate?

Low levels of copper in a test result could indicate conditions like Menkes disease, a genetic disorder that affects copper levels in the body, or malnutrition. Low copper levels can also be seen in individuals with malabsorption conditions, such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease.

Discussion with Healthcare Provider and Relationship with Other Tests

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider after receiving the results of my Copper test?

After receiving your Copper test results, you should discuss their implications, any potential underlying conditions, the need for further testing, and if necessary, treatment options. It's important to understand your results in the context of your overall health, symptoms, and other test results.

How does the Copper test relate to other mineral tests?

The Copper test is often used alongside other mineral and trace element tests to give a more comprehensive picture of a person's nutritional status. Related tests could include those for iron, zinc, and ceruloplasmin, a protein that binds copper in the bloodstream.

What other tests might be ordered if my Copper test results are abnormal?

If your Copper test results are abnormal, additional tests may be needed to further investigate. These could include tests for ceruloplasmin, liver function tests, or a 24-hour urine copper test.

Understanding the Implications and Health Impact

What is copper and why is it important for health?

Copper is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in iron metabolism, energy production, and neurotransmitter synthesis. It's also necessary for the function of several enzymes, which are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions in the body.

What are the symptoms of having too high or too low copper levels?

High copper levels can lead to symptoms like fatigue, weakness, jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, and neurological symptoms. On the other hand, low copper levels can lead to symptoms like anemia, bone abnormalities, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling in the extremities, and a decreased immune response.

What long-term health issues can be caused by abnormal copper levels?

Long-term health issues caused by abnormal copper levels depend on whether levels are high or low. Long-term high copper levels, as seen in Wilson's disease, can lead to liver disease and neurological problems. Long-term low copper levels can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, nerve damage, and increased susceptibility to infections.

Prevention, Risk Management, and Treatment

Can lifestyle changes influence the results of a Copper test?

Certain lifestyle changes can influence the results of a Copper test. For example, maintaining a balanced diet that includes sufficient sources of copper, such as shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and chocolate, can help regulate copper levels. On the other hand, overuse of dietary supplements containing copper could lead to toxicity.

How does the Copper test aid in the management of health conditions?

The Copper test can be crucial in diagnosing and managing conditions related to copper imbalance, such as Wilson's disease or Menkes disease. By providing information on copper levels, it can help guide treatment decisions and monitor the effectiveness of interventions.

What treatments might be considered if my copper levels are abnormal?

Treatment for abnormal copper levels depends on the underlying cause. For high copper levels due to Wilson's disease, treatment may involve medications to reduce copper absorption or increase its elimination. For low copper levels, treatment might involve dietary changes or copper supplements.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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