Introduction and Overview of Copper as an Element Essential for Life

  • Maria C. Linder
Part of the Biochemistry of the Elements book series (BOTE, volume 10)


Copper, in the form of bracelets and ointments, has been a part of folk medicine in the treatment of painful muscles and joints, probably for a long time. However, only in the very recent past has the need for copper in the normal growth, development, and function of living organisms become apparent. Indeed, it is now clear that traces of this versatile transition metal are necessary for all life forms. Copper functions as a cofactor for cytochrome c oxidase, the terminal enzyme of the respiratory electron transport chain in most cells; as part of plastocyanin in the photosynthetic apparatus of plants and algae; as part of the oxygen-carrying hemocyanin of arthropod and gastropod blood; as a cofactor for numerous other (sometimes less fundamental) enzymes; and most probably also as part of smaller peptide and nonpeptide factors that may be involved in regulatory processes (such as cell proliferation and angiogenesis) and in some aspects of body defense in man and animals.


Copper Concentration Copper Metabolism Dietary Copper Plasma Copper Ferromagnesian Mineral 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria C. Linder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryCalifornia State UniversityFullertonUSA

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