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Concentration of copper, zinc, chromium, iron and nickel in the abdominal aorta of patients deceased with coronary heart disease.

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Institute of Public Health and Medical Research, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


The Cu, Zn, Cr, Fe, and Ni concentrations from the atherosclerotic plaques in the abdominal aorta obtained from 40 patients who died of coronary heart disease (CHD) were measured. In 32 of them the clinical and anatomical diagnosis was ischemic heart disease (IHD) and in 8 of them it was acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Concomitant determinations of the concentrations of the above trace elements were determined in 16 normal aortas from subjects who died in accidents or from causes other than atherosclerosis (C). The determinations were done by means of a Perkin-Elmer atomic absorption spectrophotometer, Model 300. The results are expressed in mg/kg of dried tissue. The Cu, Zn, and Cr concentrations were significantly lower (p < 0.01) in the atherosclerotic plaques of abdominal aorta of the deceased patients with IHD and AMI than in the control group. Iron had the tendency to rise but not significantly. The nickel level in the atherosclerotic plaques from abdominal aorta did not change significantly as compared to the controls. We attribute the low values of copper in the atherosclerotic aortic tissue in IHD and AMI to a shift of copper from aortic tissue into the blood. At present, there is no explanation for the low concentration of zinc and chromium in atherosclerotic aortic tissue.

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