Caeruloplasmin is an enzyme, which contains copper; it is used during the metabolism of iron in the body. Copper is essential for the general functioning of the body; it is taken into the body by eating certain foods, including most types of nut and seeds. Copper is absorbed by the body and stored in the liver; it is used to produce a variety of different enzymes and is bound to apocaeruloplasmin to produce caeruloplasmin.

Why is the test used?

The test is used to diagnose Wilson’s disease and diseases associated with a copper deficiency. Symptoms of Wilson’s disease include:

  • Jaundice
  • Anaemia
  • Tiredness
  • Tremors
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Problems with walking
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain

Doctors may also order copper tests if they believe that the patient may have a copper deficiency.

How is the test done?

The test is done using a sample of blood, which is collected from a vein in the arm (usually a vein on the inside of the arm). A needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe, which is attached to the needle. Once the sample has been collected, it can be bottled, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away for analysis; the results will then be returned to the GP’s surgery or the hospital.

What do the results mean?

This test is usually carried out alongside other copper tests so that the doctor can reach an accurate diagnosis. The results of the caeruloplasmin test may indicate the following:

  • If levels of caeruloplasmin and copper in the blood are low and levels of copper in the urine are high, this may indicate Wilson’s disease.
  • If caeruloplasmin and copper levels are low in both the blood and urine samples, this may indicate a copper deficiency.

Caeruloplasmin is an acute phase reactant so levels may increase temporarily following an injury, inflammation or a severe infection; levels may also increase with some forms of cancer. Levels may also be slightly elevated during pregnancy or when taking certain types of medication.

Specific Blood Tests

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