Copper - plasma or serum

Last updated: Wednesday, 14, April, 2004

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Item Process
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.

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 Ceruloplasmin - serum.

Reference

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