Sabina Więcek, Justyna Paprocka

Disorders of Copper Metabolism in Children—A Problem too Rarely Recognized

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Copper plays an important role in metabolic processes. Both deficiency and excess of this element have a negative effect and lead to pathological conditions. Copper is a cofactor of many enzymatic reactions. Its concentration depends on the delivery in the diet, the absorption in enterocytes, transport with the participation of ATP7A/ATP7B protein, and proper excretion. Copper homeostasis disorders lead to serious medical conditions such as Menkes disease (MD) and Wilson’s disease (WD). A mutation in the ATP7A gene is the cause of Menkes disease, it prevents the supply of copper ions to enzymes dependent on them, such as dopamine β-hydroxylase and lysyl oxidase. This leads to progressive changes in the central nervous system and disorders of the connective tissue. In turn, Wilson’s disease is an inherited autosomal recessive disease. It is caused by a mutation of the ATP7B gene encoding the ATP7B protein which means excess copper cannot be removed from the body, leading to the pathological accumulation of this element in the liver and brain. The clinical picture is dominated by the liver, neurological, and/or psychiatric symptoms. Early inclusion of zinc preparations and chelating drugs significantly improves the prognosis in this group of patients. The aim of the study is to analyse, based on the latest literature, the following factors: the etiopathogenesis, clinical picture, diagnostic tests, treatment, prognosis, and complications of disease entities associated with copper disturbances: Menkes disease and Wilson’s disease. In addition, it is necessary for general practitioners, neurologists, and gastroenterologists to pay attention to these disease entities because they are recognized too late and too rarely, especially in the paediatric population.

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