Dietary Copper and the Brain

  • Helma Antony
  • Ian G. Macreadie


Copper is an essential trace element. It is a component of a number of enzymes involved in functions that are vital for cells. Without copper, cell growth and survival are not maintained. Copper’s importance applies not only to human health, but to all of life; it is absolutely required for all cells. Conversely, excess copper is toxic and can lead to serious disorders in many organs of the body, including the brain. Therefore, a safe and adequate dietary intake of copper together with tight regulation of cellular levels is necessary to maintain good health. This chapter reviews the biological role of dietary copper in humans, the innate strategies to achieve copper homeostasis and the diseases associated with copper metabolism. Studies in yeast, a model organism, have helped to define how the cell manages copper, from its reduction to a biologically useful form, to its transport and delivery to locations in mitochondria, the Golgi apparatus, endosomes, etc., to the sequestration and efflux of copper when it is in excess. Special emphasis is given to the effects of copper in the brain. Brain copper levels alter with age and some of these alterations have been implicated with various neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the evidence linking altered copper levels with acute and progressive diseases is presented.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Copper Level Copper Transporter Copper Homeostasis Menkes Disease 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


β-Amyloid Protein


Alzheimer’s Disease


daily Adequate Intake


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis


Amyloid Precursor Protein


Adenosine Tri-Phosphate


Beta-Site APP Cleaving Enzyme




Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy


Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease


CerebroSpinal Fluid




Chronic Wasting Disease


Enzyme Commission number


Endemic Tyrolean Infantile Cirrhosis




Huntington Disease


Indian Childhood Cirrhosis


Idiopathic Copper Toxicosis


Occipital Horn Syndrome


Parkinson’s Disease


Recommended Dietary Allowance


Reactive Oxygen Species


Superoxide Dismutase


Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy


daily tolerable Upper intake Level


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bio21 InstituteUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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