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J Nutr Biochem. 1990 Mar;1(3):149-54.

Effect of dietary copper deficiency on the distribution of dopamine and norepinephrine in mice and rats.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.


Dietary copper deficiency was produced in Swiss albino mice and Sprague Dawley rats to determine the organ specificity of alterations in norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) concentrations and the relationship with organ copper levels. A 5-week dietary treatment was used, which started 1 week after birth for mice, initially via dams, and 3 weeks after birth for rats. Mice offspring (6 weeks of age) and rats (8 weeks of age) maintained on a copper-deficient (-Cu) treatment were compared with copper-adequate (+Cu) controls. Compared with +Cu animals, -Cu mice and rats were anemic and had low (<1% of +Cu) ceruloplasmin activities but normal body weights. The -Cu mice had organ copper concentrations ranging between 30% and 65% of +Cu values for eight organs studied, with the thymus being the least depleted. For -Cu rats, the range was 15% to 65%. Significant reductions in NE concentration were observed in the heart, pancreas, and spleen of -Cu mice. Elevated DA levels were observed in all organs except the brain. For -Cu rats, the NE level was lower in the heart and the DA level was higher in both the heart and spleen compared with +Cu rats. Dopamine elevation in the heart and spleen for both -Cu mice and rats was four- and fivefold higher, respectively. Adrenal catecholamine levels were only slightly changed by copper deficiency in mice or rats. Urinary levels of both NE and DA were higher in -Cu rats and mice. Plasma and heart tyrosine levels were not altered in -Cu mice. Elevated DA in -Cu rodents may be due to limiting dopamine-beta-monooxygenase. Higher urinary NE and lower organ NE may be due to a combination of decreased synthesis and enhanced turnover. The magnitude of decreased organ copper was not predictive of altered catecholamine pool size.


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