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Copper (Cu), Intracellular

The measurement of intracellular copper is used to estimate the actual levels of the metal within the cells and is performed by measuring the concentration of copper in the red blood cells.

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Copper is an important metal essential for good health. Copper is incorporated into various proteins and metal enzymes that perform basic metabolic functions. Copper is an essential ingredient for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of bones, connective tissue, brain, heart, and many other organs of the body. Copper is involved in the formation of red blood cells, in the absorption and utilization of iron, in the metabolism of cholesterol and glucose, and in the synthesis and release of important proteins and enzymes. These enzymes in turn produce cellular energy and regulate nerve cell function, blood clotting, and oxygen transport. Copper stimulates the immune system to fight infections, activates the repair of injured tissues, and heals wounds. Copper also helps to neutralize free radicals, which can cause serious oxidative damage to cells.

Decreased copper levels can result from conditions such as celiac disease and Crohn's disease that cause malabsorption. Increased copper levels can cause significant health problems affecting the liver and kidneys. Exposure to copper usually results from the consumption of unsuitable food or water and from exposure to industries where the metal is mined and processed. Copper toxicity can also be caused by Wilson's disease, which causes copper to be stored in tissues throughout the body.

Intracellular copper measurement can detect metal deficiency earlier and more accurately than standard serum copper testing.

Measurement of Intracellular Trace Elements

Measuring intracellular metals and trace elements by measuring them within red blood cells (RBCs) is an excellent method for assessing the deficiency or excess of elements with important functions within cells or within cell membranes. The measurement of intracellular metals and trace elements is used to assess the status of key elements with important intracellular functions such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium, and zinc.

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