Urine copper measurement is used for the laboratory diagnosis of Wilson's disease, primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Copper (Cu) is an essential trace element, essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin and the activation of respiratory chain enzymes. In normal conditions, more than 95% of serum copper is bound to seruloplasmin, the remainder being loosely bound to albumin.
High concentrations of copper in the urine are observed in hepatobiliary degeneration (Wilson's disease), due to the reduced synthesis of seruloplasmin. Without seruloplasmin for copper transport, Wilson's disease results in the accumulation of copper in the tissues of the brain, eyes, kidneys and liver. One of the features of this disease is the presence of Kayser-Fleischer rings around the iris of the eye, which are created by deposition of copper. Elevated levels of copper in the urine, as well as primary biliary cirrhosis, primary curing cholangitis, hemochromatosis, malignant diseases (including leukemia), thyroid toxicity and various infections. Concentrations of copper in the urine may also be elevated in patients taking contraceptives or estrogens during pregnancy.
Decreased concentrations of copper in the urine are observed in malnutrition, hypoproteinemia, malabsorption and nephrotic syndrome. Excessive intake of zinc-containing dietary supplements (zinc inhibits the normal absorption of copper from the gastrointestinal tract) also results in decreased levels of copper in the urine.
Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
- Increase: Alzheimer's disease, amino aciduria, cirrhosis (biliary), hepatitis (chronic, active), hyperseruloplasminemia, nephrotic syndrome, pellagra, proteinuria, Wilson's disease
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
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