Total Copper (Blood)
Does this test have other names?
Total copper serum test
What is this test?
This test measures the total amount of copper in your blood. Normally most of the
copper in your blood is carried by a protein called ceruloplasmin.
Adults have 50 and 80 milligrams (mg) of copper in their body, mostly in muscle and
the liver. Copper helps make melanin, bone, and connective tissue. It also helps with
many other processes in your body. You normally get copper through your diet, in foods
like liver and other organ meats, seafood, beans, and whole grains. You get rid of
copper in your bowel movements and urine.
Various health problems can disrupt normal copper levels. This can cause you to have
too little copper (copper deficiency) or too much copper (copper toxicity).
Because a normal diet has plenty of copper, copper deficiency is unlikely except in
certain cases. It can occur in malnourished children. This is especially true for
premature babies who don't get nutritional supplements. Children with this condition
tend to have bone abnormalities and fractures. Copper deficiency can also result from
a rare genetic disorder called Menkes kinky hair syndrome. This syndrome interferes
with copper absorption. Copper deficiency can lead to problems with connective tissue,
muscle weakness, anemia, low white blood cell count, neurological problems, and paleness.
Too much copper can be toxic. You can get too much copper from dietary supplements
or from drinking contaminated water. You can also get too much copper from being around fungicides that
have copper sulfate. You can also have too much copper if you have a condition that
stops the body from getting rid of copper. For example, Wilson disease keeps the liver
from storing copper safely and from sending copper out of the body in your stool.
Extra copper in the liver overflows and builds up in the kidneys, brain, and eyes.
This extra copper can kill liver cells and cause nerve damage. Wilson disease is fatal
if untreated. Extra copper can also interfere with how your body absorbs zinc and
Why do I need this test?
Your healthcare provider may order this test if you have symptoms of either copper
deficiency or copper toxicity.
Signs and symptoms of copper deficiency can include:
Children with copper deficiency through malnutrition or another condition may have
vascular aneurysms, central nervous system problems, stunted growth, poor muscle tone
and muscle weakness, and hypothermia.
Symptoms of copper toxicity include:
Belly (abdominal) pain
In more severe forms, copper toxicity can lead to:
Signs and symptoms of Wilson disease include:
If you have Wilson disease, your provider may order this test to make sure your treatment
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider might also check for possible copper deficiency, copper toxicity,
or Wilson disease with these tests:
The level of copper in your blood can be related to many different conditions. These
include liver problems or inflammation.
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
The normal range for total copper in the blood is 70 to 140 micrograms per deciliter
A low amount of copper could mean that you have:
In Wilson disease, blood levels of copper are low even while copper builds up to toxic
levels in the liver and other organs. An exception is the person with Wilson who has
acute liver failure. In this case, the level of copper in the blood may be higher
Any of the following conditions could cause your test result to be high:
Copper toxicity from taking in too much copper, perhaps through water or dietary supplements
Biliary cirrhosis, a liver disease
Hemochromatosis, a condition in which your body absorbs too much iron
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection,
bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight
stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
Pregnancy, birth control pills, infection, inflammation, and stress can all increase
the copper levels in your blood. The medicines corticosteroids and corticotropin can
reduce your copper levels.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows
about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes
medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.