Effects of copper supplementation on copper absorption, tissue distribution, and copper transporter expression in an infant rat model

Kathryn A. Bauerly, Shannon L. Kelleher, Bo Lönnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Infants are exposed to variable copper (Cu) intake: Cu in breast milk is low, whereas infant formulas vary in Cu content as well as the water used for their preparation. Little is known about the regulation of Cu absorption during infancy. The objectives of this study were to determine effects of Cu supplementation on Cu absorption and tissue distribution and the expression of Cu transporters in an infant rat model. Suckling rat pups were orally dosed with 0, 10, or 25 μg Cu/day. Intestine and liver were collected at days 10 and 20, and Cu concentration, Cu transporter-1 (Ctr1), Atp7A, Atp7B. and metallothionein (MT) mRNA and protein levels were measured. 67Cu absorption was measured at days 10 and 20. Total 67Cu absorption decreased, and intestinal 67Cu retention increased with increased Cu intake. At day 10, intestine Cu concentration. MT mRNA. and Ctr1 protein levels increased with supplementation, but no changes in Atp7A or Atp7B levels were observed. At day 20, intestine Cu concentration was unaffected by Cu supplementation, but Ctr1 protein and Atp7A mRNA and protein levels were higher than in controls. In liver, Cu level reflected Cu intake at days 10 and 20. There was a significant increase in Ctr1. Atp7B, and MT mRNA expression in liver at both ages with Cu supplementation. In conclusion, the ability of suckling rat pups to tolerate varying amounts of dietary Cu may be due to changes in Cu transporters, facilitated by transcriptional and posttranslational mechanisms. Despite these adaptive changes. Cu supplementation resulted in elevated alanine aminotransferase levels, suggesting a risk of Cu toxicity with supplementation during infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5 51-5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Atp7A
  • Atp7B
  • Copper transport
  • Copper transporter-1
  • Infancy
  • Intestine
  • Liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of copper supplementation on copper absorption, tissue distribution, and copper transporter expression in an infant rat model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this