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Copper deficiency

Copper deficiency
Classification & external resources
ICD-10 E61.0
ICD-9 275.1

Copper deficiency can cause a syndrome of anemia or pancytopenia and a neurodegeneration in humans or other mammals. The neurodegenerative syndrome of copper deficiency has been recognized for some time in ruminant animals, in which it is commonly known as "swayback". Affected animals develop ataxia and spasticity.

Cases of human anemia caused by copper deficiency are rare, but have been known of for many years. More recently, a syndrome similar to ruminant swayback has been seen. Affected persons develop progressive spasticity, ataxia, and a neuropathy. This may be accompanied by anemia as well. The clinical syndrome is nearly identical to subacute combined degeneration, a long-recognised and relatively common condition caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.

Copper deficiency in ruminants can be caused by copper-poor grazing lands or copper-poor feed. In humans, copper deficiency can occur through copper-deficient parenteral nutrition or as a result of gastric bypass surgery. The recommended daily intake of elemental copper for an adult is 0.9 mg daily and typical American diets may be deficient in copper. Zinc competes with copper for absorption by the gut. Chronic excessive zinc consumption, such as may occur in those who overuse denture adhesive compounds, can cause copper deficiency (and is hence used to treat excessive copper levels, as in Wilson's disease).


  • Pang Y, MacIntosh DL, Ryan PB (2001). "A longitudinal investigation of aggregate oral intake of copper.". Journal of Nutrition. PMID 11481413.
  • Kumar N (2006). "Copper deficiency myelopathy (human swayback).". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. PMID 17036563.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Copper_deficiency". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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