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Am J Hematol. 2007 Jul;82(7):625-30.

Copper deficiency causes reversible myelodysplasia.

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  • 1Section on Hematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Copper deficiency is a recognized but often overlooked cause of anemia and neutropenia. We began checking serum copper levels on patients referred for evaluation for unexplained anemia and neutropenia or myelodysplasia. Eight patients were identified as copper deficient (serum copper less than 70 microg/dL). The anemia was normochromic and normocytic in seven patients. Neutropenia was present in seven patients. Seven patients had been referred for evaluation of myelodysplasia. Three were seen for consideration for allogenic stem cell transplant. Five patients had concomitant peripheral neurological symptoms. Seven patients were treated with oral copper gluconate. All treated patients demonstrated a hematological response; seven had a complete remission. The improvement in anemia and neutropenia was rapid with normalization of blood counts within three to four weeks. In one patient, normalization of the underlying marrow dysplasia was demonstrated by bone marrow histology eight months after copper replacement. The cause of copper deficiency was felt to be gastrointestinal malabsorption in five of our patients. We conclude that copper deficiency should be considered in all patients with unexplained anemia and neutropenia or myelodysplasia.

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