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Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Feb 1;28(3):324-9.

The effect of copper supplementation on red blood cell oxidizability and plasma antioxidants in middle-aged healthy volunteers.

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Unité Maladies Métaboliques et Micronutriments, INRA-CRNH, Saint Genès Champanelle, France.


A multicenter European study (FoodCue) was undertaken to provide data on the significance of increased dietary copper as a pro-oxidant or antioxidant in vivo. The present work describes the effect of Cu supplementation on (2,2'-azo-bis(2-amidinopropane) hydrochloride (AAPH)-induced red blood cell oxidation in middle-aged people. Double-blinded copper supplementation was achieved in 26 healthy volunteers (50-70 years) with pills containing 3 mg CuSO(4), 3 mg Cu glycine chelate (CuG) and 6 mg CuG. Each 6 week supplementation period was preceded and followed by 6 weeks of washout (WO) on placebo. The results show significant increases in time necessary to achieve 50% hemolysis (LT(50)) after 3CuSO(4) and 6CuG compared with values after WO periods. Cu supplementation did not increase the levels of (Cu,Zn)SOD activity in red blood cells. Resistance to hemolysis was significantly and positively correlated (r =.30, p <.01) with alpha- and beta-carotene content in the plasma. Together, these data suggest that intake of copper as high as 7 mg/d has no pro-oxidant activity and may rather result in protection of red blood cells against oxidation. The decreased oxidizability of red blood cells did not result from increased (Cu,Zn)SOD activity and may occur through other mechanisms such as changes in membrane antioxidant content.

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