Copper deficiency is rare in humans, but results in the following symptoms1,2:
Decreased white blood cell counts leading to decreased immune function
Copper deficiency can result in a secondary iron deficiency, since Fe2+ cannot be oxidized to Fe3+ to bind to transferrin. This can cause the hypochromic anemia that occurs in iron deficiency.
Menke’s disease is a genetic disorder that results in copper deficiency. It is believed that individuals with this disease have a mutation in ATP7A that prevents copper from leaving the enterocyte, thus preventing absorption1.
Copper toxicity is also rare in humans, but acute toxicity results in the following symptoms1,2:
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
Chronic symptoms include1,2:
Brain, liver, and kidney damage
Wilson’s disease is a genetic disorder where a mutation in ATP7B prevents copper excretion, resulting in copper toxicity. One notable symptom is that individuals with this disease have golden to greenish-brown Kayser-Fleischer rings around the edges of the cornea, as shown in the link below1,2.
References & Links
1. Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. (2008) Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
2. Byrd-Bredbenner C, Moe G, Beshgetoor D, Berning J. (2009) Wardlaw’s perspectives in nutrition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Kayser-Fleischer ring – http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm1101534#t=article