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Nutr Metab Insights. 2011 Sep 29;4:49-54. doi: 10.4137/NMI.S6827. eCollection 2011.

Increased Copper in Individuals with Autism Normalizes Post Zinc Therapy More Efficiently in Individuals with Concurrent GI Disease.

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Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY 13820. Research Director Health Research Institute/Pfeiffer Treatment Center 4575 Weaver Parkway Warrenville, Illinois 60555.



To assess plasma zinc and copper concentration in individuals with autism.


Plasma from 79 autistic individuals, and 18 age and gender similar neurotypical controls, were tested for plasma zinc and copper using inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry.


Autistic individuals had significantly elevated plasma levels of copper and Cu/Zn and lower, but not significantly lower, plasma Zn compared to neurotypical controls. Zn levels increased significantly in autistic individuals with and without GI disease after zinc therapy. Cu decreased significantly after zinc therapy in the GI disease group but not in the autistic group without GI disease. Autistic children significantly improved with respect to hyperactivity and stimming after zinc therapy in autistic children with GI disease. Autistic children without GI disease did not improve in these symptoms after the same therapy.


These results suggest an association between zinc and copper plasma levels and autism, and they suggest that zinc therapy may be most effective at lowering copper levels in autistic children with GI disease.


autism; copper; zinc

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