When you have jaundice, tiredness, tummy pain, behavioural changes, tremors, or other symptoms that your doctor thinks may be due to Wilson’s disease or copper deficiency. At intervals when monitoring a copper related disease or its treatment.
A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm
No test preparation is needed
This test measures the amount of caeruloplasmin in the blood. Caeruloplasmin is a copper-containing enzyme that plays a role in iron metabolism. Copper is an essential mineral that is absorbed in the intestines and then carried to the liver, where it is stored or used to make a variety of enzymes. The liver binds copper to apocaeruloplasmin to produce caeruloplasmin which is then released into the bloodstream. About 95% of the copper in the blood is bound to caeruloplasmin. Caeruloplasmin can be measured with one or more copper tests to help diagnose Wilson’s disease and evaluate copper metabolism.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.
How is it used?
Caeruloplasmin is primarily measured with blood and/or urine copper tests to help diagnose Wilson’s disease, a rare inherited disease associated with low levels of caeruloplasmin and excess storage of copper in the liver, brain, and other organs. Rarely, it may be used to help diagnose a disorder of copper deficiency.
When is it requested?
- tummy pain
- behavioural changes
- difficulty walking and/or swallowing
Rarely, caeruloplasmin may also be requested with copper tests when your doctor suspects that you have a copper deficiency and periodically if monitoring is recommended.
What does the test result mean?
Low caeruloplasmin levels alone cannot diagnose a copper related disease and need to be done with measurements of copper levels.
Test results may include:
- If caeruloplasmin and blood copper concentrations are decreased and urine copper levels are increased, the patient may have Wilson’s disease.
- About 5% of the patients with Wilson’s disease who have neurological symptoms will have normal caeruloplasmin levels as will up to 40% of those with liver disease, especially if they have recently become ill.
- If caeruloplasmin and urine and/or blood copper concentrations are low, then the patient may have a copper deficiency.
- Anything that interferes with the supply of copper or with the body’s ability to metabolise copper has the potential to affect blood caeruloplasmin and copper concentrations.
Is there anything else I should know?
Caeruloplasmin may be increased in a variety of circumstances which need to be considered when using it to diagnose or monitor Wilson’s disease or copper deficiency. These circumstances may include:
- Caeruloplasmin increases due to it being elevated when someone has inflammation, severe infection, tissue damage, and some cancers.
- Increases seen during pregnancy and with the use of oestrogen, oral contraceptives, and medications such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and valproic acid.
Do I need to have a liver biopsy?