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Biol Reprod. 1983 May;28(4):883-9.

Copper and zinc inhibit the metabolism of prostaglandin by the human uterus.


Prostaglandins (PGs) have often been cited as intermediates in the action of the inert and copper-bearing intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD). Although investigations have shown an effect of copper at high (approx. 1 x 10(-4) mol/l) concentrations on PG synthesis, little consideration has been given to the possible effects of copper on PG metabolism. In this study the effect of copper and zinc ions on PG metabolism by human endometrium and myometrium has been investigated using radiolabel techniques together with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) measurements of metabolites of PGE2. These experiments showed that concentration of 1 X 10(-5) mol/l of copper and zinc were sufficient to inhibit significantly (P less than 0.01) PGE metabolism. These levels of copper are within the physiological range of levels thought to be present in the uterine tissue and fluid of wearers of the copper-containing IUD and the inhibition of PG metabolism in these women might account for the small but significant decrease in the length of the luteal phase of their menstrual cycles.

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