How reliable and robust are current biomarkers for copper status?

Ruth Danzeisen, Magdalena Araya, Brenda Harrison, Carl L Keen, Marc Solioz, Dennis Thiele, Harry J. Mcardle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Cu is an essential nutrient for man, but can be toxic if intakes are too high. In sensitive populations, marginal over- or under-exposure can have detrimental effects. Malnourished children, the elderly, and pregnant or lactating females may be susceptible for Cu deficiency. Cu status and exposure in the population can currently not be easily measured, as neither plasma Cu nor plasma cuproenzymes reflect Cu status precisely. Some blood markers (such as ceruloplasmin) indicate severe Cu depletion, but do not inversely respond to Cu excess, and are not suitable to indicate marginal states. A biomarker of Cu is needed that is sensitive to small changes in Cu status, and that responds to Cu excess as well as deficiency. Such a marker will aid in monitoring Cu status in large populations, and will help to avoid chronic health effects (for example, liver damage in chronic toxicity, osteoporosis, loss of collagen stability, or increased susceptibility to infections in deficiency). The advent of high-throughput technologies has enabled us to screen for potential biomarkers in the whole proteome of a cell, not excluding markers that have no direct link to Cu. Further, this screening allows us to search for a whole group of proteins that, in combination, reflect Cu status. The present review emphasises the need to find sensitive biomarkers for Cu, examines potential markers of Cu status already available, and discusses methods to identify a novel suite of biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-683
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Biomarkers
  • Copper deficiency
  • Copper excess
  • Copper status
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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